COPD, otherwise known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease is a disease of the lungs primarily caused by smoking. People how are afflicted with this disease are usually lumped into two categories: "pink puffers" and "blue bloaters". Depending on how you answer the questions below, will depend on what category you are more than likely in.
1. Are you underweight and appear thin for your size?
2. Do you breathe with pursed lips?
3. Do you have an increased respiratory rate?
4. Do you have a history of cough with sputum for 3 months to one year or more?
5. Do your lips and skin appear bluish at times?
6. Do you have swollen legs or ankles, or are your neck veins distended?
If you answer "yes" to questions 1-3 but "no" to questions 4-6, you are probably a "pink puffer". On the other hand, if you answer "no" to questions 1-3 but "yes" to questions
4-6, you are probably a "blue bloater". So, what exactly does this mean?
A "pink puffer" is a person in which emphysema is the primary underlying respiratory problem. Emphysema is caused by the destruction of the airways distal to the bronchiole. It involves the gradual destruction of the pulmonary capillary bed the decreased inability to oxygenate the blood. The body then has to compensate with a lower cardiac output and hyperventilation. Eventually, because of the low cardiac output, people afflicted with this disease develop muscle wasting and weight loss. They develop a reddish complexion and a "puffing" appearance when breathing hence "pink puffer". Almost two thirds of men in the United States and one fourth of women have emphysema at death. In general, COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Although this sounds extreme, out of the two types "pink puffer" or "blue bloater", a "pink puffer" has a better overall prognosis if treatment is sought early.
A "blue bloater" is a person that actually suffers from chronic bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis is caused by excessive mucus production with airway obstruction and notable hyperplasia of mucus-producing glands. Unlike emphysema, the pulmonary capillary bed is undamaged. Instead, the body responds to the increased obstruction by decreasing ventilation and increasing cardiac output. This is a horrible mismatch within the body that results in a rapid circulation in a poorly ventilated lung leading to hypoxemia and polycythemia. With this occurring, as well as increased carbon dioxide retention, these people have signs of heart failure and are labeled as "blue bloaters". The prognosis for a "blue bloater" is very poor.
The above quiz is just a rough guide to the symptoms that could be experienced as either a "pink puffer" or a "blue bloater". If you suspect that are suffering from some form of COPD, the best thing you can do is to consult with your physician. Many times early treatment of this disease can help ensure a relatively good outcome.