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:
Genetic predisposition can make a person's lungs more susceptible to damage from smoke or pollutants (includes alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency)
Factors that increase your chance of developing COPD include:
Long-term exposure to second-hand or passive smoke
Family members with COPD
Exposure to pollutants
History of frequent childhood lung infections
Age: 50 or older
Early symptoms of COPD include:
Coughing in the morning
Coughing up clear sputum (mucus from deep in the lungs)
Shortness of breath with activity
As the disease progresses, symptoms may include:
Increased shortness of breath
Choking sensation when lying flat
Breathing through pursed lips
Desire to lean forward to improve breathing
More frequent flare-ups (periods of more severe symptoms)
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests may include:
—x-rays of the chest that may detect signs of lung infection
—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the chest
Blood tests—to assess the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood
Lung function tests
There is no treatment to cure COPD. Treatment aims to ease symptoms and improve quality of life.
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:
Opening the airways
Relaxing the breathing passages
Helping thin secretions and bring up mucus from the lungs
Treating lung infections (antibiotics)
If you have chronic bronchitis and mild-to-moderate COPD, you may not need antibiotics. If you do need them, a study found that shorter antibiotic treatment (five days or less) is as effective as longer treatment (more than five days).
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.
COPD makes patients prone to
. Doctors recommend getting
to help reduce the risk of getting a severe flu. You should also avoid being around people who are sick.
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.
Breathing and Coughing Techniques
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.
Maintain a normal weight. Excess weight causes the lungs and heart to work harder.
Eat a healthy diet that is low in saturated fat and rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods.
Eat several small meals during the day. It makes breathing easier.
Avoid gas-producing foods. Large meals and excess gas swell the stomach, which pushes up on the diaphragm.
Drink fluids to keep mucus thin.
Pace your activities.
Learn relaxation techniques and other methods to manage stress.
Seek emotional support from professionals, family, and friends.
can increase the rate of respiration, making breathing more strenuous.
A small number of patients may benefit from surgery.
You can reduce your chances of developing COPD by:
Avoiding exposure to second-hand smoke
Avoiding exposure to air pollution or irritants
Wearing protective gear if exposed to irritants or toxins at work
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
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