About 500,000 people in Switzerland and 600 million worldwide suffer from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and it is ranked number 4 in worldwide causes of death. People with COPD suffer from chronic narrowing of the airways which displays itself in the classical late stage symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing and spitting phlegm. Cigarette smoking is the most frequent cause of COPD and develops insidiously over several years. The typical patient is 40 years or older. Exacerbations are attacks of rapid and acute deteriorations of lung function with increased intensity of wheezing, more cough and spitting phlegm. As the COPD worsens, frequent hospital treatments are necessary as lung tissue is irreversibly destroyed. Three out of four outpatients suffer from restrictions of their daily activities and 40% of affected individuals have to stop working early. Untreated COPD may lead to emphysema and irreversible destruction of lung tissue. COPD is furthermore linked with cardiovascular diseases and osteoporosis.
Can we heal COPD and is there a prevention?
Unfortunately, healing is not possible. There are four main approaches to prevention of disease progression and lung function deterioration. First and most important is to quit smoking. WHO considers smoking to be an addiction and not a life style disorder; therefore, intensive anti-smoking measures are crucial. There are several different options for treatment of nicotine craving. Some of the treatments that are available today include: transdermal therapy, acupuncture, antismoking drugs and patches. Symptoms of COPD can be treated with anti-obstructive drug treatment, physical exercise and during the latter stages, oxygen may be necessary.
Dr. Alexander Meyer, Board Certified Internist at Double Check explains: once COPD is present it does not disappear spontaneously. It even may progress despite smoking cessation. It is recommended to check lung and heart condition regularly in centers with expertise, like Double Check, allowing for timely intervention and treatment.