Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and refractory (non-reversible) asthma. This disease is characterized by increasing breathlessness. It’s caused by long-term exposure to irritating gases or particulate matter, most often from cigarette smoke. People with COPD are at increased risk of developing heart disease, lung cancer and a variety of other conditions. COPD Treatment is possible. With proper management, most people with COPD can achieve good symptom control and quality of life, as well as reduced risk of other associated conditions.
Signs and Symptoms of COPD
Symptoms of COPD can be different for each person, but common symptoms are:
- Shortness of breath, especially during physical activities
- Chest tightness
- Having to clear your throat first thing in the morning, due to excess mucus in your lungs
- A chronic cough that may produce mucus (sputum) that may be clear, white, yellow or greenish
- The blueness of the lips or fingernail beds (cyanosis)
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Lack of energy
- Unintended weight loss (in later stages)
- Swelling in ankles, feet or legs
Causes of airway obstruction
Find the causes of COPD is a great help for COPD Treatment
In Emphysema the tiny, delicate air sacs (alveoli) in your lungs are damaged. The walls of the damaged air sacs become stretched out and your lungs actually get bigger, making it harder to move your air in and out. Old air gets trapped inside the alveoli so there is little or no room for new air to go. In emphysema, it is harder to get oxygen in and carbon dioxide (the waste product of your breathing) out.
Chronic bronchitis is an inflammation of the breathing tubes (bronchial airways) inside your lungs. Tiny hair-like structures (cilia) line your airways and sweep mucus up, keeping your airways clean. It becomes harder for you to cough up mucus if the cilia are damaged. This can make your airways swollen and clogged. These changes limit airflow in and out of your lungs, making it hard to breathe.
Refractory (non-reversible) asthma is a type of asthma that does not respond to usual asthma medications. In an asthma attack, bronchial airways tighten up and swell. Medications can usually reverse this, opening up the airways and returning them to how they were before the asthma attack. In refractory asthma, medications cannot reverse the tightening and swelling of the airways.
Not all COPD is the same
There are different types of COPD. Each type may affect how well different treatments work, how your symptoms affect your everyday life, and how they progress. If you have another health condition in addition to COPD (co-morbidity), such as high blood pressure, heart disease, heartburn, depression, or diabetes, this can also affect your COPD and how it is managed.
Here are some things that can help determine your particular type of COPD. Taking these things into consideration can be useful in addition to your spirometry numbers and other factors.
- Do you have a cough? If so, do you cough up mucus on most days for at least three months in a period of at least two years?
- If yes, you may have a chronic bronchitis type of COPD that will respond to different medicines.
- Are your lungs stretched out and larger than normal? If so, this may be more of an emphysema type of COPD. Sometimes it is possible to decrease the size of the big, stretched out places in your lungs.