A study was conducted that showed COPD patients with higher numbers of inflammatory biomarkers had a much higher risk of having more frequent and severe exacerbations. Not everyone who has COPD has these higher levels, though. These biomarkers are fibrinogen, C-reactive protein, and leukocytes.
Leukocytes are white blood cells, and their job is to fight infection in the body and fight off diseases and bacteria. C-reactive protein is present in high amounts in the body in general when there is an infection or long term chronic illness in the body, such as COPD. Fibrinogen is the protein found in blood plasma, which causes the blood to clot. Having too much Fibrinogen in your blood can lead to other problems, such as heart attacks and strokes. Excessive amounts of these in the body aren't a good thing in general, even though they are necessary to do their jobs.
People with allergies have immune systems that overreact at the presence of certain, otherwise harmful foreign materials like pollen spores and pet dander. It makes sense that an over abundance of these biomarkers would spell trouble for someone with COPD, which is itself a type of inflammatory disease of the lungs. For people with COPD, the lungs are inflammed and the airways become blocked with mucus. When you cough, you will always notice that you are coughing up sputum. It's important to pay attention to the color of your sputum, since a change can be a sign that you are getting sick and an exacerbation is soon to follow.
The sputum in your lungs is made up partly of white blood cells, aka leukocytes. It makes sense that someone who already has an overabundance of white blood cells in their body would produce more sputum, which is one of the reasons why people with COPD have a hard time breathing. During an an illness or an exacerbation, you produce even more sputum.
Exacerbations are dangerous for people COPD, because they cause a decrease in general lung function. COPD gets worse with each exacerbation. If it's found that you have these unusually higher levels of these biomarkers in your body, there are other things you can do to help prevent exacerbations.
Keeping yourself from getting sick as much as possible is a big one. You may also want to talk to your doctor about taking a long term, low dosage of an antibiotic to help prevent you from have exacerbations. Quitting smoking is extremely important, even after you've been diagnosed with COPD. It's possible to get some of your lung function back if you stop smoking.
There are also things you can do to cut down on your body's overproduction of C-reactive protein. Eating healthy foods containing omega-3 fatty acids and other healthy fats will balance out the production of C-reactive protein, since eating foods high in saturated fats will cause you to produce more C-reactive protein. It's also been shown that people who ate a lot of dietary fiber had the lowest levels of C-reactive protein.
Information on this page is for reference and educational purposes only. For more information about COPD, talk to your doctor or primary care provider.