Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) makes it difficult to push air out of the lungs. The oxygen poor air will build up. If the lungs are filled with this air, there is no room for fresh, oxygen rich air. COPD includes:
The changes to lung tissue differ with the two diseases. However, the causes and treatment are similar.
COPD develops due to:
Factors that increase your chance of developing COPD include:
Early symptoms of COPD include:
As the disease progresses, symptoms may include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests may include:
There is no treatment to cure COPD. Treatment aims to ease symptoms and improve quality of life.
Quitting smoking slows the disease. Doctors consider it the most important part of treatment. Smoking cessation programs may include behavior modification and medications to help you quit.
Limiting the number of irritants in the air you breathe. It may help make breathing easier. Avoid smoke, dust, smog, extreme heat or cold, and high altitudes.
Some may be taken by mouth. Nebulizers and inhalers deliver drugs directly to the lungs. Drugs for COPD may work in the following ways:
It is given to improve the air you breathe in. It increases the amount of available oxygen. This can increase energy levels and heart and brain function.
Special exercises can strengthen chest muscles and make breathing easier. Physical activity builds endurance and improves quality of life. Follow your doctor's recommendations for activity levels and restrictions.
Special methods of breathing can help bring more air into and force trapped air out of the lungs. Coughing helps clear the lungs of mucus.
A small number of patients may benefit from surgery.
American Lung Association
National Lung Health Education Program
The Canadian Lung Association
COPD fact sheet. American Lung Association website. Available at: http://www.lungusa.org/site/c.dvLUK9O0E/b.4061173/apps/s/content.asp?ct=3052283 . Accessed July 15, 2008.
Eisner MD, Balmes J, Katz PP, et al. Lifetime environmental tobacco smoke exposure and the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Environmental Health: A Global Access Science Source . 2005;4:7.
It has a name: COPD. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/lung/copd/ . Accessed July 15, 2008.
Spirometry. National Lung Health Education Program website. Available at: http://www.nlhep.org/ . Accessed July 15, 2008.
*6/4/2008 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : El Moussaoui R, Roede BM, Speelman P, Bresser P, Prins JM, Bossuyt PM. Abstract Short-course antibiotic treatment in acute exacerbations of chronic bronchitis and COPD: a meta-analysis of double-blind studies. Thorax. 2008;63:415-422. Epub 2008 Jan 30. Review.
Last reviewed February 2009 by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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