Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a form of lung disease and is based on reduced air flow into the lungs because of the deterioration of the lung tissue and the dysfunction of the minor airways. Unless treated the disease continually gets worse. The effects of this disease are shortness of breath and coughing.
The main cause of this disease is smoking and sufferers either smoke or once smoked in the past. Other causes can be high levels of air pollution and chemical fumes that can also be strong irritants and damage the lungs. Sustained period of abuse by these irritants can cause the development of COPD.
The illness and the dreadful condition of the lugs cause a blockage from the development of mucus or phlem. The only real help that COPD can receive is for patients to quit smoking or protect themselves from any irritants they be subjected to.
To identify the level of damage an important test is performed. The Spirometry test requires the patient to exhale as much as possible into a small device that can measure lung capacity. Its safer than other solutions and requires no blood testing or radiation. There is another X-ray test that can easily indicate current problems or issues that may possibly follow. Thought like all cases of X-ray testing there is a concern that over use over a prolonged amount of time may be unhealthy to the patient. There is another test that is growing in popularity to testing respiratory disease. The pulse oximeter is non invasive and can easily check oxygen saturation and other vital signs of an individual. This technology has recently been upgraded to become far more powerful that their predecessor from the 70s when it first became available. Its improvements have made the pulse oximeter more attractive and accepted for use in a number of primary and specialty care practice applications.
COPD can deteriorate quickly and the pulse oximeter can be very beneficial to monitor with smaller home units. For stable patients and as part of general testing process, the pulse oximeter compliments the other tests that have traditional tested for respiratory and COP Diseases. Apart from the home size version, the pulse oximetry device is found in most clinics and hospitals to efficiently provide readings of the vital signs in patients. Spirometry will always be the main primary test for COPD but pulse oximetry can give quick short term readings for COPD.
Apart from good testing is the important weight factor for COPD patients. With the onset of advanced illness the body becomes weaker and they lose strength and tone in their muscles. Malnourishment in common and patient can be at greater danger from lack of nourishment than from the COPD itself. So while tests like the pulse oximeter are helpful great care must be taken to have a substantial diet to counteract the effects of malnutrition.