Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) is a form of chronic lung disease that results from extensive use of mechanical ventilation and oxygen which causes damage to the lungs. BDP is a chronic respiratory disease that often affects premature newborns and infants due to the small size of their air sacs (alveoli) at birth which makes them require respiratory support to breathe.

BPD is one condition that not only affects the lungs but also the entire body of the sufferer. Typically, nearly all the alveoli in the lungs get scared and loose function leaving the infant with the need to remain on a breathing machine (Mechanical Ventilator) and oxygen which can cause further damage.

Likewise, the damage of the alveoli also causes damage to the blood vessels around them, making the passage of blood through the lungs more difficult. This could lead to an increase in the pressure inside the blood vessels in the lungs and between the heart and lungs and puts a strain on the heart, which in extreme cases, can put the heart at risk.

Symptoms of bronchopulmonary dysplasia

Some of the common signs and symptoms of bronchopulmonary dysplasia include:

1. Difficulty/Strained breathing (drawing in of the lower chest breathing in)

2. Limited growth.

3. Wheezing.

4. Rapid breathing.

5. Changes in the color of the skin around the lips and nails due to low oxygen in the blood.

Causes of bronchopulmonary dysplasia

The major cause of BPD is directly related to the use of a mechanical ventilator and oxygen. This is sometimes worsened especially when the ventilator blows air into the lung, overstraining the alveoli.

Risk factors of bronchopulmonary dysplasia

1. Prematurity: The less developed the lungs, the high the risk of it getting damaged and result in BPD. 

2. Extensive use of mechanical ventilation: The alveoli’s are easily stretched by mechanical ventilation when used for a long period of time. This can damage the lungs and cause BPD.

3. Prolonged oxygen consumption: Although the supply of oxygen can be used to support life, the higher the level of concentration and the longer it is used, the higher the risk of developing BPD.  

4. Male gender: Research has shown that male are more likely to be born prematurely and develop BPD compared to females.

How to prevent bronchopulmonary dysplasia

1. Diuretics: This medication essentially helps to reduce the amount of fluid that can be found in and around the alveoli.

2. Bronchodilators: This class of drugs helps make breathing easier as it helps calm the muscles around the air passage and widening the diameter of the airway openings.

3. Corticosteroids: These drugs reduce and/or prevent the inflammation within the lungs. They help reduce swelling within the walls of the windpipes and decrease the amount of mucus that is produced.

4. Viral Immunization: Usually, children with BPD are at high risk of respiratory tract infections. For these purposes, there are injections and medications that can be taken monthly to prevent such infections.    

5. Cardiac medication: In severe cases, some children with BPD may require special medications that help relax the muscles around the blood vessel in the lungs, allowing blood to flow through better and reduce the strain on the heart.

Sources: https://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/bronchopulmonary-dysplasia/

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