What ails Dolphy? COPD explained

Posted at 06/21/12 11:54 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos across the globe are praying for King of Comedy Dolphy, who is suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

But what is COPD?

According to Winfield Tan, a doctor on internal and pulmonary medicine at St. Luke’s Medical Center, COPD is a condition in which the airways of the lungs become inflamed and narrowed.

He said the disease is mainly due to excessive smoking – about one to two packs daily in a span of a decade. Other factors include air pollution and inhalation of certain chemicals.

“But smoking is the major risk factor,” Tan told radio dzMM on Thursday.

Symptoms include persistent cough, shortness of breath, chest tightness and overfatigue. According to Tan, those with advanced COPD may develop infections such as pneumonia, or even multiple organ failure.

Old people or those aged 45 and above are more susceptible to complications such as bronchitis and emphysema, he said.

Dolphy, 83, is set to celebrate his birthday next month.

“There could also be risk factors like diabetes, weak heart and kidneys. These are additional factors that can contribute to the weakness of the patient,” Tan explained.

Asked if those who breathe in secondhand smoke can also get COPD, he said: “This is more on active smokers. Secondhand smoke is more associated with lung cancer.”

Diagnosis, treatment

Tan said those who suffer from the aforementioned symptoms should visit a hospital for spirometry, a test that measures the amount of air that enters and leaves the lungs.

From here, one can be diagnosed if he or she has COPD.

“Spirometry is available in many hospitals here, even the small laboratories,” he said.

Tan said the best way to treat COPD is to quit smoking altogether as this will cut off the disease from its source.

Other treatments depend on the complications one may suffer from because of COPD, ranging from pneumonia to respiratory failure.

“When the main problem is neutralized and the other secondary problems as well, organ functions will slowly be restored,” Tan said.

Asked if there is a chance that Dolphy will be back in the pink of health, the doctor said: “It can be restored but, of course, it won’t be easy. It will require a lot of intensive monitoring.”

“We wish him (Dolphy) well, for good health and that he will be returned to normal,” he added.

Dolphy’s son, actor Eric Quizon, said Thursday that his father’s blood pressure has stabilized but his kidneys remain weak.

“The doctors were actually suggesting something, but I can't say it right now. But they want to do something to him,” Quizon told ANC.

Dolphy was rushed to the hospital last June 9 due to pneumonia.