What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Causes, Symptoms

COPD is a group of progressive long‐term lung diseases where the airway is thickened and inflamed.¹ Over time, COPD makes it more difficult to breathe because the airways are partly blocked, restricting the flow of air in to and out of the lungs.

When this happens, less oxygen (O2) reaches the blood, and it becomes harder to get rid of the waste gas, carbon dioxide (CO2).

COPD is made up of 2 chronic conditions:

  1. Chronic bronchitis is a lasting inflammation of the airways that causes a persistent cough with mucus secretion.
  2. Emphysema causes irreversible damage to the air sacs (alveoli) in lung tissue, and results in shortness of breath

Causes of COPD

The main cause of COPD is tobacco smoking, with the prevalence of COPD appreciably higher for individuals who are or have been regular smokers compared to non-smokers.1

Other risk factors include exposure to air pollution and occupational exposure to dust and chemicals.2

How common is COPD?

COPD is more common than you might realise. According to the latest figures, 65 million peoplearound the world are living with moderate to severe COPD.3

In Asia, COPD prevalence is around 6%, with country-specific rates sitting at 3.5–6.7%.4

In Europe, COPD prevalence is 4–10% of the adult population. On a country by country basis, the estimates are:

  • 3 million in the UK
  • 3.5 million in France
  • 2.7 million in Germany
  • 2.6 million in Italy
  • 1.5 million in Spain.5

Although COPD is often seen as a smoker’s disease, multiple studies have indicated that 1 in 5 patients diagnosed with COPD have never smoked.6,7

Symptoms of COPD

COPD usually takes years to develop. The earliest signs may be shortness of breath when climbing stairs or working around the house. Because breathing is such hard work, you may feel constantly tired. You may also have a regular cough, and build-up of mucus

Air pollution, allergies, colds and influenza may cause COPD flare-ups, otherwise known as acute exacerbations.7 If you’re a smoker, you may also get frequent lung infections that can lead to pneumonia.

A social problem

People with COPD often require hospital admissions for treatment. Each hospitalisation not only places a tremendous burden on healthcare resources, but also on patients and their families.

With the goal of fostering healthier individuals and communities, hospitals, insurance providers, care providers and patients are all looking for better solutions for the long-term care and management of COPD.

An economic problem

As the third leading cause of death worldwide, COPD is estimated to claim over 3 million lives globally every year. And as the population ages, deaths from COPD are projected to increase by more than 30% over the next decade.3

The growing number of COPD patients creates heavy economic burdens. The annual healthcare cost so far is already:

€38.6 billion in Europe1

$USD49.9 billion in the United States1

$929 million in Australia8

Along with smoking cessation, drug therapy, rehabilitation and good nutrition, adding non-invasive ventilation to your treatment may help you stay out of hospital,9 and enjoy an improved quality of life.10

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Sleep Revitalizes your Mind, Body, & Heart

The body goes under many transformations, while it is in the state of rest during sleep. There are many essential functions that take place in the body such as tissue repair, memory and energy restoration, release of essential hormones, muscle relaxation, and others. While you are asleep, the brain releases indispensable hormones that promote tissue growth. This process helps your body rejuvenate from the daily hustle bustle. Moreover, tissue growth aids in the recovery from wounds or cuts. Sunita Kumar, Co-Director, Centre for Sleep Disorders, Loyola University Medical Centre, aptly remarks that during sleep the body produces more white blood cells, to fight countless bacteria and viruses1. The heart rate also registers a dip during sleep, which according to Ms. Kumar, strengthens the heart as it is at rest with lowered activity. Moreover, a good night’s sleep also reduces the chances of getting afflicted with heart diseases.

Good Sleep = Sharp Memory

Sleep is a time, when becomes sharp and strong. Sleep quantity and quality play a fundamental role in determining what one remembers and what one doesnt. Therefore, development of long-term memory (LTM) from short-term memory (STM) happens during sleep.  Scientific researches state that the brain follows a different mechanism for storing memories through the hippocampus and neo-cortex areas. Hippocampus helps you to remember your life experiences (childhood memories), while the neo-cortex is responsible for remembering the concepts you learn (name of a color). Communications and sync between the two, helps in learning new data and updating old ones.

Sleep Steers Hormonal Hunger

Sleep not only affects your energy levels and mental functions, but also regulates your body weight. Improper sleep is related to the increasing cases of obesity, worldwide2. Many hormones which regulate the feeling of hunger (ghrelin) and signal the feeling of being full (leptin), are all influenced by the quality of your sleep.  Leptin: This is also known as satiety hormone, which is produced by the fat cells of the body. It prevents overeating by sending signals to the brain that the body does not require more food, as there is enough to fuel the body.  Ghrelin: This hunger hormone is produced in the gastrointestinal tract, which signifies the body that there is need for food. This hormone rises in the body, when you feel hungry and decreases when you have consumed some food.  Studies show that people who have disrupted patterns of sleep - have larger appetite, because of higher ghrelin secretion and lowered secretion of leptin. This imbalance in the secretion of these hormones is a result of improper sleep patterns3.

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Reference

1

https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/discomfort-15/better-sleep/healing-power-sleep?page=2

2

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3619301/

3

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3619301/