What is COPD? Symptoms, Causes and Treatment Methods

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and its causes

COPD is a genetic or acquired lung disease. It is a disease that manifests itself with increased mucous (secretion) production and cough due to inflammation of the air sacs in the lungs, that is, the bronchi. Loss of elasticity develops in the pulmonary bronchi. Thus, the breathing functions of the lungs are weakened and shortness of breath occurs. This causes various disruptions in the organism (diabetes, inflammation in the muscles, vascular occlusions and many metabolic diseases caused by low oxygen transfer to tissues). One in every 5 people over the age of 40 has it. COPD ranks 4th in the world in terms of loss of life. It is seen in 20-25% of smokers.

Is there a genetic cause for COPD?

COPD can occur genetically, although rarely. Alpha 1 Antitrypsin, a protein that protects lung cells from damage, is synthesized in the liver. Insufficiency in the functions of this protein may occur due to genetic deficiency or mutations in its gene. This causes lung cells to not be protected from damage for any reason (such as bronchitis, respiratory infections, etc.). Apart from genetic deficiency, this protein can also be detected low in the blood in serious liver diseases such as decreased liver synthesis and liver synthesis capacity.

What are the reasons why COPD is a public health problem?

The most important cause of COPD is cigarettes or similar substances inhaled into the lungs (hookah, cigar, pipe). Apart from this, people who are in environments where smoke, harmful gases and chemical substances are constantly inhaled due to their profession, who are in contact with harmful fuels (asbestos, dry plants, dung, coal) to warm up in their social environment or to meet their daily needs, and people who live their daily lives and therefore suffer from air pollution. It is a public health problem. The disease progresses insidiously and especially smokers do not take precautions because they do not accept the importance of cough and phlegm problems.

How is COPD diagnosed?

COPD can be diagnosed first by symptoms. These;

-Wheezing in the chest and long-lasting coughs and phlegm,

-Frequently experiencing illnesses such as flu and pneumonia,

-Shortness of breath and weakness,

-Weight loss,

-Feeling of rapid breathing.

If these symptoms last longer and gradually increase, it is necessary to consult a doctor immediately.

If COPD is suspected, lung x-ray, respiratory function tests, blood gas measurements and exercise tests can make the initial diagnosis, while lung infections that the patient has had since childhood are the examination criteria.

Alpha 1 Antitrypsin (ATT) test can be performed on blood to eliminate genetic factors.