COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) makes it hard for you to breathe. The two main types are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The main cause of COPD is long-term exposure to substances that irritate and damage the lungs. This is usually cigarette smoke. Air pollution, chemical fumes, or dust can also cause it.

At first, COPD may cause no symptoms or only mild symptoms. As the disease gets worse, symptoms usually become more severe. They include

  • A cough that produces a lot of mucus
  • Shortness of breath, especially with physical activity
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness

Doctors use lung function tests, imaging tests, and blood tests to diagnose COPD. There is no cure. Treatments may relieve symptoms. They include medicines, oxygen therapy, surgery, or a lung transplant. Quitting smoking is the most important step you can take to treat COPD.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Symptoms of COPD

The following features are indicative of COPD:
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • wheezing
  • chest tightness
  • mucus production
  • colds
  • flu
  • swelling in the ankles, feet, or legs
  • weight loss
  • lower muscle endurance
  • blueness of the lips or fingernail beds
  • fast heartbeat
It is possible that COPD shows no physical symptoms and still is present in a patient.

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Common Causes of COPD

The following are the most common causes of COPD:
  • cigarette smoking
  • long-term exposure to lung irritants
  • tobacco smoking
  • genetic factors
  • environmental factors

Risk Factors for COPD

The following factors may increase the likelihood of COPD:
  • heavy smoking
  • family history of respiratory disorders
  • long-term exposure to other lung irritants
  • genetic condition known as alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency

Prevention of COPD

Yes, it may be possible to prevent COPD. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • avoid smoking
  • avoid exposure to lung irritants

Occurrence of COPD

Number of Cases

The following are the number of COPD cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

COPD most commonly occurs in the following age group:
  • Aged > 40 years

Common Gender

COPD can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of COPD

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect COPD:
  • Spirometry: To measures the amount of airflow obstruction present
  • Lung function tests: To measure the amount of air inhaled and exhaled
  • Chest x-ray: To view the signs of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Arterial blood gas test: To calculate the oxygen level in the blood

Doctor for Diagnosis of COPD

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of COPD:
  • Pulmonary specialists
  • Physician

Complications of COPD if untreated

Yes, COPD causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if COPD is left untreated:
  • difficulty in walking
  • unable to work
  • memory loss
  • chronic diseases
  • depression
  • mental conditions
  • respiratory infections
  • heart problems
  • lung cancer

Procedures for Treatment of COPD

The following procedures are used to treat COPD:
  • Oxygen therapy: To improve quality of life and is the only COPD therapy proven to extend life
  • Surgery: To remove small wedges of damaged lung tissue from the upper lungs and to remove bullae from the lungs to help improve air flow
  • Lung transplant: To improve ability to breathe and to be active

Self-care for COPD

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of COPD:
  • Control your breathing: Helps breathing more efficiently throughout the day
  • Exercise regularly: Help improve overall strength and endurance and strengthen respiratory muscles
  • Eat healthy foods: To help maintain strength
  • Avoid smoke and air pollution: To protect lungs from further damage

Patient Support for Treatment of COPD

The following actions may help COPD patients:
  • Family support: Sharing fears and feelings helps reduce stress
  • Join support group: Helps relieve stress

Time for Treatment of COPD

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for COPD to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • More than 1 year

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for COPD.
Breathing Problems
Chronic Bronchitis
Oxygen Therapy
Pulmonary Rehabilitation

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