As the holidays near, so does the flu season and sometimes worsening of lung diseases patients may have. Further, because we operate at the oral and facial region, or the origin of the upper airway, many procedures are deemed stressful and patients with chronic airway diseases are at special risk.
A disease process we come across every day is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is a type of inflammatory lung disease that will cause difficulty of airflow from the lungs. COPD consists of two different types of including emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Chronic bronchitis is when the bronchial tubes becomes inflamed. The bronchial tubes are responsible for carrying air to and from the alveoli of the lungs.
Emphysema is a condition in which the bronchioles of the lungs are damaged or completely destroyed due to long-term exposure to smoking cigarettes and other pollutants.
The main cause of COPD is extended amount of time exposed to pollutants including smoking cigarettes, air pollution and/or chemicals. At the beginning stages of the disease there are very mild symptoms but as the disease progresses symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath (SOB) especially with vigorous activity such as exercising
- Chest tightness
- Productive cough with excess mucus
- Swelling in ankles, legs and feet
- In later stages: weight loss
Fortunately, with lifestyle changes and medications COPD is treatable. Medications to help treat COPD include inhalers that may or may not include steroids depending on severity of symptoms. Some examples of inhalers for COPD include: Proair, Xopenex HFA, Spiriva, Flovent HFA (inhaled steroid), Pulmicort (inhaled steroid) and Advair (combine inhaler).
Oxygen therapy and/or lung transplant would be the next course of action if symptoms are not treated with inhaler therapy.
There are many lifestyle changes one can make in order to alleviate symptoms caused by COPD including:
- Eating healthier
- Daily exercise
- Controlled breathing
- Quit smoking
Being diagnosed with COPD may be scary, but with proper lifestyle changes and treatment therapy recommended by your physician, COPD is completely treatable. In reference to managing patients with these conditions, patients with moderate to severe pulmonary disease require a risk assessment for safe and appropriate care prior to surgery.
Dr. Rushi S. Patel, DDS, Ph.D., with Citrus Oral and Facial Surgery, is a graduate of Lecanto High School. Visit on the Web at www.citrusofs.com.