COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)

COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is long-lasting inflammation of the lung that results in obstruction in airflow to the lung. It is characterized by breathing problems with cough, mucus (sputum) production, and wheezing. It’s often caused by long-term exposure to harmful gases or particulate matter, usually caused by smoking cigarettes.

Patients with COPD are more at the chance of developing lung cancer, heart disease, and a myriad of other ailments.

Chronic and the emphysema form two most frequent conditions that cause COPD. These two conditions are usually seen together and may vary in severity between people with COPD.

Chronic bronchitis can inflame the bronchial tubes that carry air into and out of the lung’s air sacs (alveoli). It’s characterized by frequent coughing as well as the production of mucus (sputum) and production.

Emphysema is a disease that causes the alveoli at the ends of the tiniest airways (bronchioles) that connect the lungs to get destroyed due to damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke as well as other irritating gases and particles.

While COPD is a chronic disease that becomes worse over the course of time, COPD is treatable. If properly managed, the majority of people suffering from COPD have a good chance of achieving control of symptoms and the quality of their life and have a reduced risk of developing other related diseases.


COPD symptoms usually don’t show until serious lung damage has already occurred and the symptoms tend to worsen as time passes, especially in the event of continued smoking.

The signs of COPD can include:

  • Shortness of breath, in particular during exercise
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Chronic coughs can result in the creation of mucus (sputum) which can be transparent white, yellow, or greenish.
  • Common respiratory infections
  • Insufficiency of energy
  • Weight loss that is not expected (in the later phases)
  • Inflammation in ankles, feet, or legs

Patients with COPD are also more likely to suffer from exacerbations or episodes, in which their symptoms are more severe than their normal day-to-day variation, and can last at most a couple of days.

When should you see a doctor?

Speak to your doctor If your symptoms aren’t improving or becoming worse, or you observe signs of infection, for example, an increase in fever or changes in the sputum.

Get medical attention immediately in the event that you are unable to breathe, or in the event of extreme blueness of your lips, fingernail bed (cyanosis), and a fast heartbeat, or find yourself feeling confused and have difficulty concentrating.


The primary reason behind COPD in developed nations is smoking tobacco. COPD often occurs in developing countries in people who breathe in fumes from burning food or heating their homes without adequate ventilation.

Certain chronic smokers are the only ones to be diagnosed with clinically obvious COPD however, the majority of smokers with long smoking histories could develop a decline in lung function. Some smokers develop less common lung conditions. It is possible that they are misdiagnosed as being suffering from COPD until a complete evaluation is conducted.

How can your lungs be affected?

Air moves through the air passageway (trachea) and then into your lungs via two massive tubes (bronchi). In your lungs, the tubes split many times as if they were branching of trees into numerous small tubes (bronchioles) which end in small air sacs (alveoli).

The air sacs contain thin walls stuffed with small blood vessels (capillaries). The oxygen that you breathe in is absorbed by these blood vessels before entering the bloodstream. In the meantime carbon dioxide, the gas which is a result of metabolism is exhaled.

Your lungs depend on the natural elasticity of your air sacs and bronchial tubes to pull the air from your body. COPD causes them to lose elasticity and then over-expand. This causes air to be trapped in your lungs as you exhale.

Airway obstruction is caused by a variety of causes.

The causes of obstructions to the airways can be a result of:

  • Emphysema. The disease of the lungs causes the destruction of the brittle walls and elastic fibers that line the alveoli. The airways in your small lungs collapse when you exhale, reducing the flow of air out of your lungs.
  • Chronic bronchitis. When you suffer from this condition the bronchial tubes get constricted and inflamed. Your lung produces more mucus which may further block the narrowed tubes. A chronic cough develops trying to open your airways.

Smoke from cigarettes, as well as other irritants

In the majority of patients with COPD, the damage to the lungs that triggers COPD is the result of smoking cigarettes for a long time. However, there could be other elements that contribute to the progression of COPD including an inheritance-related susceptibility to the condition, as there are a variety of smokers who suffer from COPD.

Other irritating substances can trigger COPD Other irritants can trigger COPD, such as cigar smoke smoking, tobacco smoke from secondhand sources, pipes pollution of the air, and exposure to smoke, dust, or fumes.

Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency

In approximately 1 percent of patients with COPD, the condition results from a genetic condition that causes lower levels of a substance known as beta-1-antitrypsin (AAt). It is created by the liver and then released into the bloodstream to protect the lung. Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency can lead to liver disease or lung disease.

AAT deficiency treatments for adults with COPD include those for patients with more common forms of COPD. Additionally, certain people may be treated by replacing the deficient AAt proteins, and this could stop any further damage to the lungs.


Risk factors

Risk factors for COPD include:

  • Smoke from tobacco. The main risk aspect for COPD is smoking cigarettes for a long time. The longer you smoke and the greater number of cigarettes you take in, the higher your chance of developing COPD. Pipe smokers smoking cigars, pipe smokers, and marijuana smokers could also be at risk and so are people who are exposed to a lot from secondhand smoke.
  • Patients suffering from asthma. Asthma is a chronic inflammatory airway condition, can cause a higher risk of developing COPD. Combining asthma with smoking can increase the chance of developing COPD further.
  • Dust in the workplace and chemicals. Exposure to long-term chemicals, vapors, and dusts at work can cause irritation and inflammation to your lung.
  • Exposed to the fumes of burning fuel. The world is in transition, and those who are exposed to the fumes of burning fuel used for cooking or heating in homes that are not well ventilated are at a higher chance to develop COPD.
  • Genetics. The rare genetic disorder known as an alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency is the root reason for some cases of COPD. Other genetic influences could make certain smokers more prone to the condition.


COPD can lead to a variety of complications which include:

  • Respiratory illnesses. Patients with COPD are more susceptible to contracting colds, flu and pneumonia. Any respiratory illness can make it more difficult to breathe and may cause more damage to the lung tissue.
  • Heart issues. Because of reasons that aren’t completely known, COPD can increase your chances of suffering from heart diseases, including heart attacks.
  • Lung cancer. People who suffer from COPD have a higher chance to develop lung cancer.
  • High blood pressure in lung arteries. COPD can cause high blood pressure within the arteries that carry blood to the lung tissue (pulmonary hypertension).
  • Depression. Breathing problems can hinder you from performing the activities you like. As well as having an illness that is serious can lead to depressive symptoms.


In contrast to some illnesses, COPD typically has a clearly defined cause and a route to avoidance, but there are strategies to stop the progress of the condition. Most cases are directly linked to smoking cigarettes, and the most effective way to avoid COPD is to not smoke or quit smoking immediately.

If you’ve been a smoker for a long time These simple rules might not be as straightforward when you’ve had the experience of quitting smoking once, several times, or even more than once. Keep trying. It is essential to locate an effective program to stop smoking to help you quit for a long. This is the best way to lessen the damage to your lungs.

The exposure of workers to dust and chemicals is another risk factor in COPD. If you are working with the types of irritants to your lung discuss with your supervisor on the best methods to safeguard yourself from harm, for example, wearing respiratory protection equipment.

Here are some actions you can follow to keep your COPD from becoming a burden. COPD:

  • Stop smoking cigarettes to reduce the risk of developing lung cancer and heart disease.
  • Take a flu shot every year as well as a routine vaccination against pneumococcal pneumonia in order to lower your risk of contracting or prevent certain infections.
  • Consult your physician If you’re feeling sad or helpless, or you think you might be suffering from depression.


COPD is often incorrectly diagnosed. Many patients with COPD are not diagnosed until the condition is advanced.

To identify your condition Your doctor will examine your symptoms and signs examine your medical and family history, and also discuss any exposure to irritants for your lungs — particularly smoking cigarettes. The doctor could order multiple tests to determine the severity of your illness.

Tests can comprise:

  • It is important to know your lungs (pulmonary) test for function. These tests determine the amount of air that you can breathe in and out, also whether the lungs are able to deliver sufficient oxygen in your blood. In the most commonly used test, known as spirometry you blow air into a huge tube, which is connected to a tiny machine to gauge the amount of oxygen your lungs are able to hold and the speed at which you expel the air from your lung. Other tests include measurements of lung volume and diffusing capacity and a walk test lasting six minutes and pulse oxygenation.
  • Chest X-ray. A chest X-ray may reveal emphysemaas one of the major reasons for COPD. A chest X-ray may be used to rule out any other lung conditions or heart failure.
  • CT scan. The CT lung scan could assist in detecting emphysema as well as determine if you would benefit from surgery to treat COPD. CT scans can also be utilized to detect lung cancer.
  • Analyzing blood gas in the arterial system. This test in the blood measures the efficiency of your lungs in carrying oxygen into your blood, and also eliminating carbon dioxide.
  • Lab tests. Laboratory tests don’t help diagnose COPD however they can serve to identify the root of your symptoms, or to determine if you have other medical conditions. For instance, laboratory tests could be used to determine whether you suffer from the genetic disorder alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiencies, which could be the reason for COPD in certain people. This test could be conducted when you have an extended family background of COPD and you develop COPD at an early age.


Many patients with COPD suffer from mild cases of the disease, for which very little treatment is required apart from quitting smoking. Even in the more advanced forms of the disease, it is possible to find a solution that can help control symptoms, slow down progression as well as reduce the chance of exacerbations and complications, and help you live a full and active life.

Quitting smoking

The first element of any treatment plan to treat COPD is to cease all smoking. Quitting smoking can prevent COPD from becoming worse, and also reduce the ability of you to breathe. However, quitting smoking isn’t an easy task. This task can seem difficult if you’ve attempted to quit smoking but were unsuccessful.

Consult your doctor regarding Nicotine replacement products and other medicines that may aid, and the best way to manage the relapses. Your doctor might also suggest an organization for those who are looking to stop smoking. Be sure to avoid smoking secondhand whenever you can.


Different kinds of medicines are prescribed to treat the signs and symptoms of COPD. Some medications can be taken regularly and other medications as required.


Bronchodilators are medicines that typically are in inhalers. they relax muscles around your airways. They can ease the shortness of breath and coughing and help you breathe more easily. Based upon the degree of illness it is possible that you require a bronchodilator that acts quickly prior to activities, a bronchodilator that is long-acting that you take every day, or both.

Examples of bronchodilators that work in a short time include:

  • Albuterol (ProAir HFA), Ventolin HFA, others)
  • Ipratropium (Atrovent HFA)
  • Levalbuterol (Xopenex)

Examples of bronchodilators with long-acting effects include:

  • Aclidinium (Tudorza Pressair)
  • Arformoterol (Brovana)
  • Formoterol (Perforomist)
  • Indacaterol (Arcapta Neoinhaler)
  • Tiotropium (Spiriva)
  • Salmeterol (Serevent)
  • Umeclidinium (Incruse Ellipta)

Inhaled steroids

Inhaled corticosteroid medication can lessen inflammation in the airways and can in preventing aggravations. The side effects can include oral infections, bruising, and hoarseness. These medicines are beneficial for patients who experience frequent flare-ups of COPD. Some examples of inhaled steroids are:

  • Fluticasone (Flovent HFA)
  • Budesonide (Pulmicort Flexhaler)

Combination inhalers

Some medicines combine bronchodilators and inhaled steroids. Examples of these inhalers are:

  • Fluticasone and Vilanterol (Breo Ellipta)
  • Fluticasone, umeclidinium, and Vilanterol (Trelegy Ellipta)
  • Formoterol and Budesonide (Symbicort)
  • The combination of fluticasone with salmeterol (Advair HFA AirDuo Digihaler, others)

Combination inhalers that contain more than one kind of bronchodilator can also be found. Examples of this include:

  • Aclidinium, formoterol, and Aclidinium (Duaklir Pressair)
  • Albuterol and Ipratropium (Combivent Respimat)
  • The glycopyrrolate, Formoterol (Bevespi Aerosphere)
  • Glycopyrrolate and Indacaterol (Utibron)
  • Olodaterol and Tiotropium (Stiolto Respimat)
  • Umeclidinium and Vilanterol (Anoro Ellipta)

Oral steroids

For those who have periods of time when COPD gets more severe, referred to as severe or moderate acute exacerbation. Short sessions (for instance 5 days) of corticosteroids taken orally can help to prevent the further deterioration of COPD. However, prolonged use of these drugs can cause severe side effects, including weight growth as well as osteoporosis, diabetes, cataracts, and an increased risk of developing infections.

Phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitors

A medicine that has been approved for patients suffering from severe COPD and signs of chronic bronchitis is called roflumilast (Daliresp) is an inhibitor of phosphodiesterase-4. The drug reduces inflammation of the airways and also relaxes the airways. Common side effects are weight loss and diarrhea.


If other treatments have proved unsuccessful or cost is an issue Theophylline (Elixophyllin Theo-24 Theochron) is a cheaper medication, that can assist in improving breathing and preventing instances that are aggravated by COPD. The adverse effects can be attributed to dose and can include headache, nausea, as well as tremor, rapid heartbeats, and fast heartbeats Tests, are performed to check levels of blood in the presence of the drug.


Respiratory illnesses, such as acute bronchitis and pneumonia as well as influenza, can worsen COPD symptoms. Antibiotics are helpful in treating episodes of worsening COPD However, they’re not usually suggested to prevent. A few studies suggest some antibiotics including azithromycin (Zithromax) are effective in preventing the onset of worsening COPD However, adverse effects and resistance to antibiotics can limit their use.

Therapies for the lungs

Doctors are often able to use these other treatments for those suffering from severe or moderate COPD

  • Oxygen therapy. If there’s not an adequate oxygen level in your blood, it might require supplemental oxygen. There are many devices that supply oxygen to the lungs, which include portable, lightweight units you can carry with you when you run errands or go around town. Some COPD sufferers use oxygen during their activities, or when they sleep. Some people use oxygen continuously. Oxygen therapy is a great way to improve the quality of life. It is also the only COPD treatment that has been proven to prolong the life span. Discuss with your doctor your requirements and possible options.
  • The program for the rehabilitation of the lungs. The programs typically combine education, training for exercise nutritional advice, and counseling. It is possible to work with a variety of experts who will customize your rehabilitation program to suit your requirements.
    Rehabilitation of the lungs following instances of worsening COPD could reduce your need to go to hospitals, improve your capacity to take part in your daily activities, and enhance your level of living. Discuss with your physician the possibility of referring you to a program.

Therapy for non-invasive ventilation at home

There is evidence to support the use of in-hospital breathing aids such as the bi-level pressure for airways (BiPAP) however, certain studies now support the benefits of using it at home. A non-invasive device for ventilation equipped with a mask can help improve breathing and reduce the storage of carbon dioxide (hypercapnia) which can cause acute respiratory insufficiency and hospitalization. Further research is required to discover the best methods to apply this therapy.

Treating the exacerbations

Even after ongoing treatment, there are periods of time when symptoms are more severe for a few days or even weeks. This is known as acute exacerbation and it could result in lung failure if you do not receive timely treatment.

The cause of the flare-up could be an infection in the respiratory tract, air pollution, or other triggers of inflammation. Whatever the reason it is important to seek immediate medical assistance when you notice an ongoing increase in your coughing or a change in the mucus you’re breathing or difficulty breathing.

If you experience exacerbations it is possible that you require other treatments (such as steroids, antibiotics, or both) as well as oxygen supplemental treatment at the hospital. When symptoms begin to improve, your physician can discuss measures to avoid future flare-ups like cutting down on smoking; using long-acting steroids, inhaling steroids, medication for bronchodilators, and other ones taking your annual flu vaccination and avoiding exposure to the air pollution as much as you can.


Surgery can be a viable option for people suffering from severe emphysema that aren’t being treated enough by medication alone. Surgery options include:

  • Lung volume reduction surgery. This procedure is where the surgeon will remove small pieces that are damaged tissue in the upper lung. This allows for more space in the chest cavity so that the lung tissue that is healthy will expand, and the diaphragm is able to function more efficiently. For some, this procedure may improve the quality of life as well as prolong the life expectancy.
    The endoscopic reduction of lung volumes minimally invasive procedure that has just been accepted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat patients suffering from COPD. A small, one-way valve is installed inside the lung, allowing the lobe that is most damaged to shrink, so that the healthy part of the lung is able to expand and perform its.
  • Lung transplant. Transplantation of the lungs could be a possibility for individuals who meet certain conditions. The transplant can enhance your capacity to breathe and be active. However, it’s a significant operation with significant risks like a rejection of organs, and you’ll require lifelong immunosuppressing medicines.
  • Bullectomy. Huge air space (bullae) is created inside the lungs as the air sacs’ walls (alveoli) become destroyed. These bullae could grow big and create breathing difficulties. In a procedure called a bullectomy doctors to remove the bullae from the lungs to aid in improving the flow of air.

Lifestyle and home solutions for home and lifestyle

If you suffer from COPD you can take steps to improve your health and lessen the lung damage:

  • You can control your breathing. Discuss with your physician or respiratory therapist about strategies to breathe more efficiently all day long. Make sure you discuss breathing techniques as well as energy conservation strategies and relaxation techniques you can employ in times of exhaustion.
  • Clear your airways. When you suffer from COPD mucus can build up within your air passages and may be difficult to get rid of. A controlled cough, drinking lots of fluids and the use of a humidifier could assist.
  • Exercise regularly. It can be difficult to exercise when you’re having difficulty breathing, but regular exercise will improve your endurance and strength overall and build up the respiratory muscles. Discuss with your physician which exercises are suitable for you.
  • Eat nutritious foods. A healthy diet can help you maintain your strength. If you’re underweight, your doctor may recommend nutritional supplements. In the event that you’re obese, losing some weight will dramatically improve your breathing, particularly when you’re working out.
  • Do not smoke or breathe in air pollution. Alongside stopping smoking, it’s essential to avoid areas where others smoke. Smoke from other people can cause more lung damage. Other forms of air pollution can cause irritation to your lungs, so make sure to check the daily forecasts for air quality before you leave.
  • See your doctor regularly. Follow your appointment times even if you’re good. It’s crucial to keep a close eye on the health of your lungs. Make sure to receive your annual flu shot in the fall, to keep infections at bay that could worsen the condition of COPD. Consult your physician if you’ll need the pneumococcal vaccine. Inform your doctor when you experience an increase in symptoms or if you see indications of infection.

Helping to cope and providing support

Living with COPD isn’t easy and can be a challenge, especially when it becomes more difficult to breathe. You might be forced to cut back on the activities you once enjoyed. Your family and friends could struggle to adapt to changes.

It is helpful to talk about your worries and emotions with your loved ones, family members and the doctor. It is also possible to think about joining an organization that helps people who suffer from COPD. You may also be able to benefit from medication or counseling in case you’re feeling overwhelmed or depressed.

You are preparing for your appointment

If your primary healthcare provider suspects you’ve got COPD You’re likely to be directed to a pulmonologist one who is a specialist in lung conditions.

What you can do

Prior to your appointment, you may want to create a list of responses to these questions

  • What are the symptoms you’re experiencing? When did they first begin?
  • What causes your symptoms to get worse? Better?
  • Do you know of any family members who have COPD?
  • Have you ever received therapy for COPD? If yes What was the treatment and how did it work?
  • Are you receiving treatment by a physician for other conditions?
  • What medicines and supplements are you taking regularly?

It is possible to have a companion as well as a family member to the appointment. In most cases, two sets of ears are more beneficial than one especially when you’re researching a medical issue, like COPD. Keep notes if this is helpful.

What can you expect from your doctor?

Your doctor could ask you one or more of these questions:

  • How long have you been suffering from you had a cough?
  • Do you find yourself often exhausted?
  • Have you noticed wheezing or snoring while breathing?
  • Do you, or have you ever used cigarettes?
  • Are you looking for help stopping smoking?

The doctor may ask you additional questions based upon your answers to symptoms, signs, and. Being prepared and anticipating questions will allow you to make maximum use of your visit with your physician.

One thought on “COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)

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