COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is a chronic lung disease, unknown to the general public, while it is the 4th leading cause of death in the world. Because of its insidious progression, the patients consult still too late. In France, 3.5 million people are affected, two-thirds of whom are unaware of it ... They are however breathless at the slightest effort or out of breath.
We must acknowledge the battle of lung specialists, lung specialists, who are trying to impose the term COPD, for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is true that there is all the drama of this disease in this complicated and unpronounceable name. A disease that must be considered because it affects up to 10% of the population of industrialized countries and has been steadily increasing for 20 years with more than 44 million patients worldwide.
COPD is bronchitis. But bronchitis that obstructs and kills.
COPD is, more than lung cancer, the painful and inescapable end of the smoker who, day after day, year after year, destroys his lungs. Our body can not live without oxygen. This is the main fuel of our engine. The body can not live without lungs. This is where the oxygen passes through the blood through the alveoli, sort of bags at the end of our bronchi. To have an idea of this exchange surface, if we spread all our cells on the ground, it would represent, for each of us, the equivalent of a tennis court.
The breath is life.
Our "capital blows" lives permanently under the threat of the aggressors, in the first rank of which we must put the tobacco, but also the microbes and a number of industrial pollutants. Our tennis court in danger, turns into a ping pong table.
Who coughs and spits, even without fever, every morning, has COPD. Simple and banal, but here is the trap. It is important not to trivialize these signs by thinking that it is normal to cough when smoking, because in the medium term, this untreated COPD progresses to a gradual and irreversible narrowing of the size of the bronchi. The air will be difficult to pass ... then will appear a progressively increasing breathlessness that worries only late when it disrupts the daily life. It is often then that the smoker consults. The doctor can actually show him, figures to support, that his lungs do not breathe very well, but he is at this stage rather helpless. Effective solutions exist only at the beginning of the disease, from the beginning of the shortness of breath. They are becoming rarer, like the air that reaches the lungs, as the disease progresses. The ultimate stage is the use of the oxygen cylinder. Life connected to a tube. Nothing very pleasant.
One attitude: screening
So, in case of heavy cough or if you live with a big smoker, you have to watch if walking or climbing the stairs is more breathless than someone else of the same age. If this is the case, we must consult because we can measure the breath capital. It is a very simple examination, spirometry, that practices general practitioners as well as the taking of blood pressure, thanks to a small device that on a simple violent expiration, allows us to classify into 3 categories.
The green category is that of intact capital. The orange category, that of the alert that can at any time turn red, and there the use of the pulmonologist is essential. In about twenty minutes he will be able, thanks to some measuring instruments, to know if it is a COPD.
One can perfectly be reached without knowing it because the breathlessness, which each one of us knows during an emotion or an effort which lasts, is a symptom too late. The big boss is tobacco. The younger you start smoking, the greater the risk of the disease. It is the number of years of smoking that matters to develop COPD, not the daily consumption of tobacco.