Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstruction to the airflow from the lungs. It is a progressive disease that worsens over time. The most common types are emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

SYMPTOMS

  • Daily cough that produces mucus
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • The need to clear your throat because of excess mucus in lungs
  • Frequent cold and flu
  • Frequent respiratory infection
  • Blueness of lips and fingernail beds
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Swelling in ankles, feet or legs

CAUSES

  • Tobacco smoking
  • Cigarette, cigar, pipe smoking
  • Secondhand smoking
  • Exposure of irritants such as chemical fumes, dust, air-pollution
  • Genetic condition (alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency)

RISK FACTORS

  • Smoking: tobacco smokers are at high risk of COPD
  • Genetics: those with relations who have COPD are more likely to develop it
  • Exposure to lung irritants: long term exposure to chemical fumes, air-pollution, dust increases the chances of COPD
  • Age: the older you get, the more likely you are to developing symptoms
  • Asthmatic patient who smoke

COMPLICATIONS

  • Respiratory infections
  • Heart problems
  • Lung cancer
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure in lung arteries

DIAGNOSIS

Diagnosis is based on symptoms and physical exam. To get a clear diagnosis, your doctor may suggest several tests such as;

  • Spirometry
  • X-ray
  • Arterial blood gas test

TREATMENT

There is no cure for COPD but there are medications to relieve symptoms and slow the progress of disease.

  • Oxygen therapy
  • Surgery
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Medications (such as bronchodilators and vaccines)

PREVENTION

There is no prevention for COPD, but the symptoms can be managed to lead a standard life

  • Quit smoking: quitting can be challenging so it is advised to find supports groups
  • Avoid exposure to lung irritants

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