What is COPD ?
COPD, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is one of the most common obstructive lung diseases, implies airflow obstruction happens when breathing-out. This leads to excessive inflation of the lungs and chest wall. COPD is a serious disease because the mechanism of airflow limitation is not fully reversible. Earlier COPD was also called as Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease.
How is COPD defined?
COPD is defined by the presence of two conditions; emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Emphysema is related to structural changes that happen in the respiratory system characterised by destruction and enlargement of the lung alveoli. And Chronic Bronchitis is defined by the presence of chronic cough and sputum production or phlegm.
Along with emphysema and chronic bronchitis, COPD also includes small airways disease,in which there is narrowing of the small bronchioles.
What happens in COPD ?
A patient with COPD experiences airflow limitation. The small airways become narrowed due to increased in the number of cells(hyperplasia), mucus secretion & accumulation and eventual fibrosis.
The series of events which leads to emphysema can be explained in four stages:
- Cigarette smoking leads to inflammatory changes and also stimulation of immune cells in the terminal air spaces of the lung, the alveoli.
- Those inflammatory cells release protein enzymes that damage the extracellular matric of the lung.
- Because of the continued cigarette smoke exposure and release of protein enzmes, structural cell death occurs.
- Failure in the repair process of the elasticity of the lung and the wall components of the lung result in increase in air spaces which is the characteric feature of emphysema.
Who are at risk of developing COPD?
Risk factors that are attributed to COPD are cigarette smoking. The incidence of higher prevalence of COPD with increasing age is connected to the years of smoking. The higher rate of smoking among males is also linked to the higher prevalence of COPD in males when compared to females.
Other risk factors can be environmental and genetic factors which play an important role in COPD prevalence. Respiratory infections act as caustative factors for the acute increase in complaints of COPD. Occupational exposures such as cotton textile dust, coal mining, etc are the included under risk factors category for COPD.
What are the symptoms of COPD?
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is known by the presence of three symtoms:
Cough, Sputum production and Breathlessness on exertion .
With the advancement of COPD, breathlessness on exertion (exertional dyspnoea) gets worsened even at rest.
On examination, physician may find prolonged expiratory phase with some wheezing. The chest may appear barrel shaped due to hyperinflation of the lungs. In advanced stage of COPD, cyanosis(bluish discoloration) is visible in the lips and nail beds.
Who are Pink puffers?
When emphysema is predominant than Chronic bronchitis in patients with COPD, they are referred to as ‘Pink puffers.” They appear thin and use accessory muscles of respiration such as intercostals muscles, sternocleidomastoid muscles and scalene muscles.
Who are Blue bloaters?
When a patient with COPD has Chronic bronchitis predominance over emphysema, they are called as “ Blue bloaters”. These people appear heavy and have bluish discoloration(cyanotic).
What is the treatment for COPD?
COPD is among the top 3 diseases responsible for more number of deaths across the globe. Such a grave disease not being controlled through various medicines is very disappointing for modern medical science. Homeopathy on the other hand is a medical science which has effective remedies for COPD which bring about drastic improvement in the symptoms of the disease.
The medicines are selected carefully by the method of constitutional treatment which includes the entire medical history, the mind and physical appearance, the therapeutic aspects etc. Since not all smokers suffer from COPD and it suggests certain constitutions being prone to such a disease. Therefore, it is observed and proved by the homeopathic doctors that best treatment for COPD is possible by the constitutional method.
Homeopathic medicines such as Hepar sulph, Lachesis, Silicea, Ammonium carb, Antimonium tart etc are especially beneficial in the treatment of patients with COPD with emphysema in predominance otherwise called as Pink puffers.
Likewise, constitutionally chosen homeopathic drugs useful in the treatment of patients with COPD with Chronic bronchitis predominance are Bryonia, Crotalus horr, Aconite, Carbo veg, Stannum, Sulphur among others.