What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an umbrella term for many chronic inflammatory lung diseases, often characterized by progressive breathlessness. These diseases specifically include chronic bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible) asthma and emphysema.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease affects millions of Americans and is the third leading cause of disease-related deaths in the United States. (x) Although there is no cure yet, COPD is often treatable and preventable. By managing the disease properly, you can enjoy a quality of life and minimize the risk of other related conditions.
Causes of COPD
Most COPDs form by inhaling unhealthy toxins or poisons. Some causes are genetic, while others are age-related. Some common causes include:
The primary cause of COPD is cigarette smoking or exposure to tobacco smoke. Smoking is the leading cause of COPD in the United States. (x) Ninety percent of Americans with COPD are smokers or former smokers. (x) Cigarette smoke causes irritation and inflammation in the lungs. The body then releases white blood cells to the area. These white blood cells then release enzymes that cause damage to the lung tissue. Your body’s defense system can fight these enzymes, but this defense can get stunned by tobacco smoke leading to COPD. (x) (x)
- Secondhand Smoke
Exposure to secondhand smoke (air from other people smoking) can also cause COPD in adults, based on a study performed in Korea. (x) According to a study conducted in Denmark, the symptoms of COPD are similar in both smokers and non-smokers. However, newer smokers with COPD are likely to have milder symptoms, unlike the current and former smokers. (x) But the symptoms associated with COPD don’t show unless significant lung damage has occurred.
- Pollution and Fumes
COPD can occur if you have inhaled dust, fumes and chemicals for an extended period. It can happen at your place of work because of industrial air pollutants. Examples of these harmful materials in the workplace include carbon monoxide, ammonia and asbestos. (x)
Similarly, homes contain toxins like smoke, spray products, molds and cleaners. Fumes from burning charcoal or wood used in cooking can also cause you to have COPD after prolonged exposure.
Therefore, avoiding these hazardous chemicals is the best way to reduce the risk of COPD. One way to do this is to ensure good ventilation in workplaces and homes, which can provide good circulation of clean air that will minimize breathing in these toxins. (x)
The chronic obstructive pulmonary disease has a strong genetic component. In rare cases — about five percent — individuals with COPD may have a defect in their DNA called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. (x) Individuals with this condition have a lower-than-normal level of alpha-1 antitrypsin, a blood protein that protects the lungs from irritation that results from breathing in toxins. If you have a deficiency in alpha-1, it causes your lungs to degenerate. This condition also affects your liver. Since alpha-1 is a genetic disorder that may pass from parents to their kids. (x) (x)
Age is also a key risk factor for COPD. Research shows that most people with COPD showed symptoms at 40 years. (x) (x) Though rare, COPD can also occur in younger people, especially if there is a predisposing health issue like alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. (x)
Individuals with active asthma are likely to develop COPD. An article posted on a COPD website reports you are significantly at high risk of chronic lung conditions later in your life if you have asthma. (x) According to another study, the existence of asthma aided in predicting COPD in non-smokers. (x) If you are a woman, based on a study in Syria, you might even have a higher chance of developing COPD. (x)
Other Health Problems Connected to COPD
The comorbid condition is common in individuals with COPD compared to those with other medical disorders. Specifically, some of these conditions include diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, high cholesterol levels, osteoporosis and sleep apnea. (x)
Signs and Symptoms of COPD
Early warning signs of COPD include shortness of breath and a lingering cough. (x) But when COPD shows severe symptoms, it becomes a life-threatening medical emergency. More severe symptoms include cyanosis (bluish skin and lips), respiratory distress, peripheral edema and hyperinflation. Hyperinflation is when your lungs take up more room in your chest, and the air gets trapped in the damaged area of the lungs. You experience shortness of breath. (x)
Symptoms may vary depending on whether the COPD is chronic bronchitis or emphysema, the two main types of COPD. Chronic bronchitis indications include day-to-day cough and mucus production, while emphysema symptoms include wheezing and daily mucus. The severity of each condition also varies with different people. (x) The common symptoms of COPD are:
- Chronic Cough
Coughing allows the body to get rid of mucus and irritants like dust and pollen from the airways. It is also how the body clears other sections of the lungs. Thus, chronic cough is the primary symptom of COPD. And if a cough persists for up to a year or two, it could be a sign of one component of COPD — chronic bronchitis.
People with COPD cough up yellow mucus. Also, the cough is worse during early mornings or after smoking. Other symptoms are observable as COPD progresses. (x)
Air forced through narrow air passages creates a whistling sound during breathing. It is mainly a result of excess mucus that obstructs the airways and muscular tightening, narrowing the airways. It can also happen because of asthma or pneumonia. (x)
- Shortness of Breath
Also known as dyspnea, shortness of breath occurs when the airways in the lungs become narrow. Inflammation and damage often cause this narrowing of airways. This symptom is highly observable during intensified physical activity. Shortness of breath makes simple tasks like bathing, dressing and walking challenging. (x) Also, people with COPD might find it difficult to breathe because of their narrowed airways.
- Frequent Respiratory Infections
If you have COPD, you may have a weak immune system. It means that it is difficult to discard pollutants, dust and other lung irritants. It puts people with COPD at a greater risk of contracting infections like flu, colds and pneumonia. (x)
- Low Energy
Difficulty in breathing is one sign of COPD. When you have difficulty breathing, getting enough oxygen into the bloodstream and muscles becomes harder. Without adequate oxygen, the body slows down, and a feeling of exhaustion and tiredness sets in. (x)
- Unintended Weight Loss
If you have had COPD for an extended period, you can experience loss in weight. It happens in the later stages of COPD. Because COPD patients have difficulty breathing, their bodies need to exert more to breathe normally. Thus, your body burns more calories than it is taking in to provide the extra energy to facilitate breathing and air movement in and out of the lungs. Weight loss could result from this burning of extra calories. (x)
- Swelling in the Ankles
Lung damage can cause swelling of the feet and ankles in individuals with COPD. Throughout COPD, the heart will have to work extra hard to pump blood to the injured lung.
- Chest Tightness
COPD causes the chest to feel tight because of an increase in mucus buildup in the lungs. It can also result from narrow and blocked airways associated with individuals with COPD. (x)
- Barrel Chest
An individual with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may develop a small barrel chest. It occurs once the lungs become chronically over-inflated with air, which forces the rib cage to stay partially expanded. (x) It happens in the later stages of the condition.
- Need to Clear the Throat More Often
Having to clear the airways because of excessive mucus constantly is common. COPA increases mucus production because of inflammation in the airways. Your body is protecting the lungs, becoming thicker as the disease worsens. (x)
COPD diagnosis involves an analysis of the symptoms, a physical exam and diagnostic test results. The doctor uses a stethoscope during the physical exam to listen to the lungs during breathing. But if a doctor requires a complete picture, they can do the following tests on you:
This test assesses the functioning of the lungs. The patient takes a deep breath and then blows into a tube connected to the spirometer.
- X-Ray or CT Scan
These are imaging tests. They provide a detailed visual look at the patient’s lungs and blood vessels.
- Arterial Blood Test
This blood test determines the patient’s blood oxygen, carbon dioxide and other vital levels.
There is no cure for COPD yet. Therefore, COPD treatment aims to ease the symptoms, prevent future complications, and slow its progression. Some common treatments include:
Bronchodilators are the medications used to relax your muscles of the airways and widen them to allow for normal breathing. You take it through a nebulizer or an inhaler. The medical team may add Glucocorticosteroids during this medication to mitigate inflammation in the airways. (x)
- Oxygen Therapy
The patient receives supplemental oxygen if their blood oxygen level is too low using a mask or nasal cannula. Also, a portable unit may help the patient move around with ease. (x)
Doctors prescribe surgery only in rare COPD cases where other forms of treatment have failed. In most cases, surgery happens in severe emphysema cases. One type of surgery is bullectomy, which involves removing large, irregular air spaces from the lungs. Another type of surgery is lung volume reduction, where they remove your upper lung tissue. Some may suggest a lung transplant, replacing it with a healthy lung from a donor. (x)
Several lifestyle changes can also help to provide relief from COPD and reduce symptoms. They include:
- Quitting smoking
- Avoiding secondhand smoke and chemical fumes
- Eating nutrition-rich foods — having a healthy eating plan is ideal
- Seeking medical advice on the amount of exercise required for your body
- Living with COPD
- While there is no cure for COPD yet, you can try to manage the symptoms and control the progression of the disease.
- Avoid lung irritants
- Get ongoing care
- Manage the disease and its symptoms
- Prepare for emergencies
Supplements for COPD
Supplementing your body to prevent or treat COPD is an alternative worth trying. Discuss it with your physician and see if taking supplements will help your body maintain its overall health. Supplements for respiratory health include:
- Methylsulfonylmethane Powder
This supplement helps detoxify the body, allowing toxins and waste products to be excreted out of the cells efficiently. If you plan to take this dietary supplement, take 1,000 mg to 1,300 mg of methylsulfonylmethane powder four times per day, or as directed by a physician.
- Turmeric Curcumin Extract Powder for COPD
For centuries, turmeric is a root used for cooking and medicinal purposes, such as being rich in antioxidants and fighting inflammation in your body. Curcumin natural turmeric extract powder is to be taken in one dose of 1,000 mg or less per day, depending on the intended effect. Take it with water and a meal. (x)
- Quercetin Dihydrate Powder
A clinical study showed quercetin decreased inflammation in the lungs, preventing progressive COPD. (x) Take recommended quercetin dehydrate powder in servings between 250 mg (1/4 tsp) and 500 mg (1/2 tsp). Take the supplement three times a day, depending on the intended effect.
- Pure N-Acetyl L-Cysteine Powder
- Cat’s Claw Extract Powder for COPD
As a dietary supplement, take 500 mg (scant ¼ tsp) of cat’s claw extract powder once to twice daily or as directed by a physician. The herb has a stimulating impact on the immune system. Often used for respiratory diseases related to COPD. (x)
- Potassium Orotate
The suggested serving size for potassium orotate powder is 400 mg (level 1/8 tsp) to be taken daily. Because of potassium toxicity, the use of a milligram scale would be wise.
- Vitamin D
More research and studies support vitamin D as causing a positive effect on respiratory diseases like COPD. Over a century ago, a British physician C.J.B. Williams endorsed cod liver oil in the treatment of tuberculosis. Today, studies show that vitamin D supplementation supports those with pulmonary diseases like asthma and COPD, which positively affects inflammation, wound healing, host defense, repair, and other procedures. (x)
Other Supplements for COPD
Where to Buy Supplements for COPD?
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Are you interested in trying any of these powders or supplements mentioned in this article as a possible solution to helping you with COPD? Contact BulkSupplements.com to place an order today.
The Bottom Line
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a respiratory condition that makes it difficult for you to breathe. There are many levels of this disease that can progressively get worse while your body ages. Lifestyle changes and supplementing your body may help reverse the progression of COPD.
However, the main trigger for this condition is smoking. One of the best ways to stay away from COPD is to avoid smoking. But if you are a smoker, quitting the habit can also help you control this condition.
Secondhand smoke and environmental factors also play a role in triggering COPD, as does prolonged asthma. You must speak with your physician if you think your body might progress towards COPD as a health concern.
Be sure to review the causes and symptoms of COPD discussed above so that you may have a better understanding of the condition.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.