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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD Quick Overview

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a permanent obstruction of the airways that occurs in varying degrees (see stages in this article) manifested in a variety of ways often exhibiting components as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and/or asthma. This obstruction of airflow may be progressive, worsening over time.
  • COPD is most commonly caused by tobacco abuse mainly in the form of primary cigarette smoking. Secondary smoke also may be a contributor.
  • Other causes of COPD include
  • Occupational exposures (for example, coal workers, welders, sensitized cotton and flour workers)
  • Untreated diseases that cause inflammation of the airways, for example, asthma
  • Environmental exposures, especially in the non- industrialized parts of the world where people cook over wood or coal burning stoves
  • Genetic conditions that can result in COPD such as alpha-one antitrypsin deficiency (a genetic condition that can result in COPD)
  • COPD has four stages (I – IV) with stage IV representing severe disease.
  • Risk factors for COPD include tobacco use, (primarily cigarette smoking), asthma, occupational exposure, genetics, and age. As lungs age, some components of COPD, such as emphysema can occur.
  • Symptoms of COPD are primarily
    • shortness of breath,
    • cough,
    • mucus production,
    • wheezing, and
    • chest tightness.
  • Primary care, internists, pulmonologists, infectious disease and surgical specialists are the types of doctors that treat many aspects of COPD.
  • COPD is diagnosed by patient history, examination, and medical tests and exams.
  • Home remedies and treatments that help soothe COPD symptoms include lifestyle changes such as smoking cessation, avoiding lung irritants, managing complications, and making sure you have a healthy eating plan since often a person with COPD because of symptoms such as shortness of breath.
  • Medical treatment for COPD includes medication, current vaccinations against the flu and pneumonia, pulmonary rehabilitation, oxygen therapy, surgery, bullectomy, lung volume reduction surgery, and lung transplant.
  • COPD can be prevented by smoking cessation and avoiding other lung irritants such as air pollution, chemical fumes, dust, and secondhand smoke.
  • The outlook for a person with COPD depends on the stage of the disease with a fair to good prognosis if treated early, but declines steadily as the disease progresses.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/29/2015

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COPD - Diagnosis

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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease - Symptoms

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COPD Symptoms

When you have COPD:

  • You have a cough that won't go away.
  • You often cough up mucus.
  • You are often short of breath, especially when you exercise.
  • You may feel tightness in your chest.

HealthWise. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

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