What is COPD?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), also known as chronic obstructive lung disease (COLD), chronic obstructive airway disease (COAD), chronic airflow limitation (CAL) and chronic obstructive respiratory disease (CORD), is the occurrence of chronic bronchitis or emphysema, a pair of commonly co-existing diseases of the lungs in which the airways narrow over time. This limits airflow to and from the lungs, causing shortness of breath (dyspnea). In clinical practice, COPD is defined by its characteristically low airflow on lung function tests. In contrast to asthma, this limitation is poorly reversible and usually gets progressively worse over time. Usually in COPD, the Patient has a decreased ability to exchange Oxygen(O2) and Carbon Dioxide(CO2) in the lungs, leading to un-physiological(abnormal) Respiratory patterns. This can lead to less tolerance for infections and Patients tend to have little tolerance for exercise as well, often shown through Shortness of Breath after climbing stairs or doing any other activity.
COPD is caused by noxious particles or gas, most commonly from tobacco smoking, which triggers an abnormal inflammatory response in the lung.
The diagnosis of COPD requires lung function tests. Important management strategies are smoking cessation, vaccinations, rehabilitation, and drug therapy (often using inhalers). Some Patients go on to require long-term oxygen therapy or lung transplantation.
- What does the Respiratory system do?
- Abnormal and or inadequate breathing
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
- What Happens in Intensive Care?
- How long will your loved one remain in Intensive Care?
What does the Respiratory System do ?
The respiratory system consists of the lungs, airways and blood vessels. The task and function of the respiratory system is to breath in(inhale) oxygen from the air into the lungs and then through gas exchange in the lungs, bringing the oxygen(O2) into the body. On the other hand the respiratory system also removes Carbon dioxide(CO2) through gas exchange from the body. This gas exchange- Oxygen for Carbon Dioxide- occurs in the lungs and is facilitated between the Alveoli(little lung cavity) and the blood.
Abnormal and or inadequate breathing can occur as a result of:
- head injuries or spinal injuries for example
- fluid in the alveoli or Pulmonary edema, creating a barrier to a physiological(normal) gas exchange
- Asthma or other forms of airway obstruction
- Rib fracture or flail chest after motor vehicle accident or other injuries causing trauma
What happens in Intensive Care?
- Initially oxygen and respiratory support might be commenced via an oxygen mask or via Non- Invasive Ventilation(NIV) or BIPAP ventilation
- Nutrition Therapy and adequate Physiotherapy
- In some cases in Intensive Care your loved one might require a Breathing Tube (endotracheal tube) and mechanical ventilation on Ventilators (Breathing Machines)
- Medications given are nebulisers such as Ventolin(Salbutamol), Atrovent, Pulmicort. Salbutamol may also be given intravenously. Furthermore, steroids/ cortisone and other medications may be given
- Your loved one may have an Arterial Catheter(Arterial Catheter and Arterial line insertion) and Central Line(Central Venous Lines) inserted, in order to monitor ABG’s(Arterial blood gases) and to give intravenous fluids and infusions via the CVC
- Your loved one will be closely monitored using a Bedside Monitors.
- Frequent Chest X-rays and blood tests (Blood& Pathology tests in Intensive Care)especially arterial blood gases (ABGs) will be performed regularly.
How long will your loved one remain in Intensive Care?
Depending the severity and the treatment of the COPD in Intensive Care, your loved ones stay in Intensive Care may vary. The stay may range from a few days, usually if your loved one is not mechanically ventilated with a Breathing Tube /endotracheal tube and may “only” require therapy with an oxygen mask or via Non- Invasive Ventilation(NIV) or BIPAP ventilation and Physiotherapy. Your loved ones stay may be for up to one week or more if he or she requires Intubation, a Breathing Tube (endotracheal tube) and mechanical ventilation on Ventilators (Breathing Machines). In severe cases, mechanical ventilation may lead to Tracheostomy ventilation and a slow and difficult wean off the ventilator. If your loved one requires Tracheostomy ventilation for longer periods of time please follow this link for more information and home treatment options at www.intensivecareathome.com.au
Of course, if you have any questions or concerns, please discuss them with the ICU nurses and doctors.
All Intensive Care interventions and procedures carry a degree of potential risk even when performed by skilled and experienced staff. Please discuss these issues with the medical and nursing staff who are caring for your loved one.
The information contained on this page is general in nature and therefore cannot reflect individual Patient variation. It is meant as a back up to specific information which will be discussed with you by the Doctors and Nurses caring for your loved one. INTENSIVE CARE HOTLINE attests to the accuracy of the information contained here BUT takes no responsibility for how it may apply to an individual Patient. Please refer to the full disclaimer.