What is COPD and What Causes It

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is still largely underrated by the general public and as a result, often unidentified and untreated by doctors. In spite of its slow advancement, COPD is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. Today,  about 210 million people suffer from this condition. Such statistics are striking and alarming, yet COPD still remains one amongst many of the underrated diseases which are increasing in pervasiveness worldwide.

This article explores,

1. What is COPD

2. What Causes COPD

3. What are the Symptoms of COPD

4. How is COPD Diagnosed

5. What are the Treatment Options for COPD

What is COPD – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

COPD is an umbrella term used to describe advanced lung diseases such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, intractable (non-reversible) asthma and some other forms of bronchiectasis. It basically refers to a long-term lung condition which makes it hard to release air out of the lungs because your airways have been contracted.

A lot of individuals mistake their increased breathlessness and coughing as a normal part of aging. In the initial stages of the disease, you may not notice these indications. COPD can develop for years without obvious shortness of breath; you will start seeing obvious signs and symptoms only in the more advanced phases of the disease, which might be too late to be treated.

What Causes COPD

COPD usually occurs due to long-term harm to your lungs from breathing in toxic substances, usually cigarette smoke, or smoke from other sources and air contamination. In the developing world, COPD is often seen in people who are  exposed to fumes from burning fuel from cooking and heating in poorly ventilated homes.

What is COPD and What Causes It

What are the Symptoms of COPD

Breathlessness, which is progressive, is the main symptom of COPD. Other common symptoms are cough, puffing and mucus production. The best way to lessen this rate of development is to stop smoking. The blueness of the lips or fingernail beds (cyanosis) can also be observed in this condition. People with COPD are also likely to experience incidents called exacerbations, during which their symptoms become worse than usual day-to-day variation and continue for numerous days.

How is COPD Diagnosed

A doctor can diagnose COPD by asking about the patient’s symptoms and medical history, and performing  a physical exam, and conducting inhalation tests. The most widely breathing test used to confirm a diagnosis of COPD is Spirometry which is an easy, painless test that involves breathing into a large pipe connected to a machine, called a spirometer. The spirometer measures how much air your lungs can grasp and how fast you can exhale air out of your lungs. The doctor may suggest added tests to rule out other lung complications, such as asthma or heart failure, or to plan cure.

What are the Treatment Options for COPD

Whilst there is no treatment for COPD, the symptoms can be governed; this means that you can control the symptoms and ‘’flare ups’’ which will help you lead a normal life.  Inhalers are usually used as its treatment, with preventers, relievers (usually blue) and mixture inhalers. There are also medicines that help reduce the stickiness of your phlegm (the substance you cough up) so you may be given tablets. It is very important to use your inhaler repeatedly, even if your COPD symptoms seem to be regulated. It is also important to use your inhaler properly, or you won’t get the full help from this medication.

COPD is incurable, yet proper treatment can slow the development of the disease. According to the latest projections, if appropriate methods for prevention are taken in the impending time , the overall humanity rate associated with COPD will cut down to 30%.

Image Courtesy:

“Copd 2010” By National Heart Lung and Blood Institute – National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Embogama

Embogama is a passionate freelance writer for several years. Her areas of interest include general medicine, clinical medicine, health and fitness, Ayurveda medicine, psychology, counseling and piano music