Alliance Community Hospital physician speaks about COPD in Damascus
About two dozen area residents heard a free lecture on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) by Adbul Basit, MD of Alliance Pulmonary Associates Monday evening. The one thing it was impossible for them not to learn from the talk is this: smoking is bad for your lungs -- and your whole body.
"Smoking isn't just harmful to your breathing process, it is a main culprit in so many diseases including but not limited to COPD, heart disease, stroke, circulatory problems, osteoporosis and, of course, many types of cancer," explained Dr. Basit, an internist who is board-certified in internal medicine, pulmonary disease and sleep medicine.
He told the crowd at Damascus Friends Church that the best course of treatment for COPD is prevention -- and that not smoking is one of the most effective ways to minimize the likelihood of developing the disease.
"This doesn't mean that every smoker will get COPD or that non-smokers will not. But smoking considerably increases the risk of COPD, which is also known as chronic obstructive airways disease, chronic obstructive lung disease, chronic bronchitis and/or emphysema," he said.
Basit explained that COPD is one of the most common lung diseases in America and one that makes breathing extremely difficult for patients.
And, while he reiterated that smoking is the leading cause of COPD, he also said that, in rare cases, nonsmokers who lack a protein called alpha-1 antitrypsin can develop emphysema. Other risk factors for COPD can include:
-Exposure to certain gases or fumes in the workplace
-Exposure to heavy amounts of secondhand smoke and pollution
-Frequent use of cooking fire without proper ventilation
Basit said that the following symptoms can be signs of COPD:
-Cough, with or without mucus
-Many respiratory infections
-Shortness of breath (dyspnea) that gets worse with mild activity
-Trouble catching one's breath
He noted that, because the symptoms of COPD develop slowly, some people may not know that they are sick for a long time prior to being diagnosed.
Dr. Basit told the crowd that the best test for determining COPD is a lung function test called spirometry, which involves blowing out as hard as possible into a small machine that measures lung capacity. Pictures of the lungs (such as x-rays and CT scans) can be helpful, as can a certain type of blood test that studies the amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood.
While there is no cure for COPD, Basit said there are many things that can be done to give patients some relief from their symptoms while simultaneously slowing the progression of COPD. Firstly, persons with COPD must stop smoking. Also, certain medications can be used to treat COPD, such as:
-Inhalers (bronchodilators) to open the airways, such as ipratropium (Atrovent), tiotropium (Spiriva), salmeterol (Serevent), formoterol (Foradil), or albuterol
-Inhaled steroids to reduce lung inflammation
-Anti-inflammatory medications such as montelukast (Singulair) and roflimulast are sometimes used
"The most important thing is to try to pinpoint the problem as early as possible. That way, the chances of slowing the disease and retaining lung function is increased," said Basit, who noted that cardio-pulmonary rehabilitation is often a helpful option for COPD patients.
Sources: Alliance Community Hospital, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.
For more information or to schedule a consultation, call Basit's office at 330-596-6560.
For information on how to stop smoking, call Alliance Community Hospital at 330-596-7125 or visit their website at www.achosp.org.
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