What is it?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which consists of two conditions called Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis, is a chronic lung disease that causing obstructed airflow from the lungs. The disease results from constant inflammation and destruction of the airways (called bronchioles and alveoli), primarily due many years of tobacco smoking. Other less common causes are environmental or occupational air pollution and various infections. COPD is a chronic condition that deteriorates over time and flares up periodically. It also increases the risk of developing heart disease and lung cancer. However, proper treatment and management allows most people to achieve good symptom control and quality of life.

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Mucopurulent Chronic Bronchitis
- Obstructive Chronic Bronchitis with Acute Exacerbation
- Simple Chronic Bronchitis
- Obstructive Chronic Bronchitis

Signs & symptoms

The main symptoms of COPD are chronic, productive cough and exertional shortness of breath. Typical signs are a barrel chest and a pinkish or bluish skin. In the advanced stage of the disease, shortness of breath appears at rest, and signs of heart disease can appear, such as chest pain on exertion, edema of the ankles, weight loss and severe fatigue. Flares of the disease, called exacerbations, are most often caused by a respiratory infection and require a step up in treatment (usually as part of hospitalization).

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of COPD is based on a doctor's examination and tests such as blood gas test, a chest x-ray and a lung function test called spirometry.

Treatment

The goal of COPD treatment is to reduce the severity of respiratory symptoms and reduce the number of flares (excretions).
- Quitting smoking. For people with COPD who smoke, this is the most important aspect of treatment as it slows the progression of the disease.
- Home-use of supplemental oxygen. This treatment may be needed if blood oxygen levels are low.
- Bronchodilators. These are medications, usually given by inhalers, that help to dilate the airways and improve symptoms.
- Steroids. Their job is to reduce the inflammation process and the airway narrowing it causes. There are additional drugs used for this purpose.
- avoiding lung infections. Lung infections can cause exacerbations and complications. Certain vaccines, such as flu and pneumonia vaccines, are especially important for people withs COPD.
- Pulmonary rehabilitation. personalized treatment program that teaches exercises and ways to breathe that can help ease symptoms.
- antibiotics. Antibiotics are most often used only in cases of bacterial infection.
There are surgical treatment methods for patients whose pulmonary function cannot be improved in any other way. These treatments include lung reduction surgery and lung transplantation.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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