What is COPD?

COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a broad term used to label progressive lung diseases including chronic bronchitis, emphysema, some forms of bronchiectasis, and refractory (non-reversible) asthma. This condition is characterised by growing breathlessness.

What Are the Symptoms of COPD?

COPD symptoms often do not show up until substantial lung damage has occurred, and they usually get worse over time, mainly if there is an exposure to smoke. For chronic bronchitis, the chief symptom is mucus (sputum) production and daily coughing for at least three months in a year. Some of common symptoms of COPD include:

  • Shortness of breath, especially during physical activities
  • Chest tightness
  • Wheezing
  • Having to always clear your throat due to excess mucus in your lungs
  • Blueness of the fingernail beds or lips
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Swelling of ankles, feet or legs
  • A chronic cough that may produce mucus (sputum) that may be clear, white, yellow or greenish
  • Lack of energy
  • Unintended weight loss

Individuals with COPD are also likely to suffer from episodes called exacerbations, during which their signs become worse than usual everyday variation and persist for at least quite a few days.

Causes of COPD

COPD is mostly a combination of two conditions: emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Both diseases are caused due to smoking. Even though an individual can have either emphysema or chronic bronchitis, people are most likely to have a mixture of both conditions. The various risk factors that increase the chance of developing this condition are as follows.

  • Long-term exposure to harmful pollutants in the workplace
  • COPD most often happens in individuals 40 years of age and older
  • Genetics can also be part of the cause in the development of COPD
  • Majority of the people who have COPD (around 90% of them) have smoked
  • Infectious diseases that harm the lung tissue in patients with asthma or hyperactive airways may also lead to COPD

What Are the Types of COPD?

There are two main types of COPD:

  • Chronic bronchitis, which leads to a long-term cough with mucus
  • Emphysema, which harms the lungs over time

Other than this, refractory asthma, which is non-reversible, is also a part of COPD, as are some types of bronchiectasis, which leads to abnormal scarring of the airways.

What Are the Treatment Options for COPD?

Currently, there is no cure for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but treatment can help in reducing the progression of the condition and also gradually control the symptoms. Once the patient is finished with the numerous diagnostic tests, the doctor may suggest one or more COPD treatments options depending on how severe the condition is. The main COPD treatment options include:

  • Quitting Smoking - If a person has COPD and they smoke, this is the most crucial thing they can do.

  • Medications and Inhalers - This makes breathing easier.

  • Pulmonary Rehabilitation - It is a specialisedprogramme of exercise as well as education.

  • A Lung Transplant or Surgery - This is only a possibility for a minimal number of individuals.

The doctor will discuss the possible treatment options with the patient to ensure that the COPD symptoms are efficiently controlled.

Follow Up Care After COPD Treatment

Once the essential treatment is finished, it is vital for the patient to visit their treating doctor for all the appointments. In these visits, the doctor watches the patient’s progress closely by asking them various questions and performing many exams. One thing every patient should do is never hide anything from their doctor. It is essential for the patient to give the doctor a clear idea about their condition and any side-effects that they may be experiencing.

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