Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD bronchitis emphysema graphic
COPD by British Lung Foundation

Introduction

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a lung disease which makes it hard to breathe, which includes chronic bronchitis, emphysema and sometimes asthma. COPD refers to a group of diseases that cause airflow blockage and breathing-related problems. In 2004 (according to WHO), 64 million people have COPD and more than 3 million people died of COPD.

 

COPD

 

Some of the main causes of COPD

  • In 80-90% cases it is caused by smoking
  • Genetic reasons (alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency)
  • Occupational dusts and chemicals
  • Second hand smoke
  • Wood smoke and other biomass fuel e.g. animal dung, crop residues used for cooking.
  • Frequent lung infections as a child

Prevention

COPD can be prevented by modifying some behaviors. Avoid inhaling tobacco smoke, indoor/outdoor air pollutants and avoiding respiratory infections to prevent developing COPD. Early diagnosis and preventive measures must be taken.

 

Symptoms

  • Chronic cough
  • Shortness of breath while doing everyday activities
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Blueness of the lips or fingernail beds
  • Fatigue
  • Wheezing
  • Producing lot of phlegm

Treatment

  • Quit smoking
  • Medication: Bronchodilators, Bronchodilators with inhaled glucocorticosteroids, vaccine, Oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation,
  • Surgery: Bullectomy, Lung Volume Reduction Surgery, lung transplant

 

 

References

  1. American Lung association
  2. World Health Organization 
  3. Canadian Lung Association
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  5. COPD foundation
  6. British Lung Foundation
  7. National Heart lung and Blood Institute