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
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
- 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,
- 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 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
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/29/2015
Must Read Articles Related to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Asthma is a disease that affects the breathing passages of the learn more >>
Bronchitis is acute or chronic inflammation of the air passages in the lungs. There are several viruses and bacteria that cause bronchitis. Exposure to pollutan...learn more >>
Cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of death and illness among Americans. Effects of learn more >>
Patient Comments & Reviews
The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD):