What is COPD? Symptoms, Causes, Risk, and Treatment

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a long-term disorder characterized by a gradual and growing restriction of airflow into or out of the lungs. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is defined by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) as an airflow limitation that is not fully reversible, usually progressive, and associated with an abnormal inflammatory response of the lungs to inhaled noxious particles or gases. COPD is a catch-all name for two diseases: emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD patients may have one or both of these problems, and the severity of each varies from person to person. For any lung disease and breathing difficulty, contact our specialist at BEWELL hospital.

Emphysema causes damage to the lungs' air sacs. As a result, the lungs lose their flexibility and are no longer able to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide properly.

Chronic bronchitis is characterized by inflammation of the airway lining. This causes an increase in mucus production and thickness. When bronchitis lingers and defies therapy, it becomes chronic.



COPD Symptoms

Because the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a slowly progressive condition, it is not uncommon for the early signs and symptoms to differ from those in the later stages. There are numerous methods for evaluating or staging the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, most of which are based on symptoms.

The initial signs and symptoms of COPD are usually a productive cough in the morning, with colorless or white phlegm (sputum).

Breathlessness, often known as shortness of breath, is the most common symptom of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (dyspnea). Initially, this symptom may occur on occasion with effort and may escalate to dyspnea while performing a basic job, such as rising up or walking to the bathroom. Some people may have wheezing (a whistling or hissing sound while breathing). The following are signs and symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease:

  • Cough with very small amounts of colourless sputum
  • Acute chest discomfort
  • Breathing difficulties
  • As the condition advances from mild to moderate, symptoms frequently worsen:

  • Simple actions, such as walking up a few stairs, can cause respiratory difficulty.
  • Rapid breathing (tachypnea)
  • Skin discolouration that is bluish in colour (cyanosis)
  • Activation of accessory respiratory muscles
  • Excessive swelling of the extremities (peripheral edema)
  • Lungs that are overinflated (hyperinflation)
  • Wheezing
  • Crackles, (lung sounds usually with inspiration)
  • Exhalations (expiration)
  • Breathing sounds that are diffuse
  • Jugular venous pulse elevation
What is the cause of COPD?

Cigarette smoking or exposure to tobacco smoke is the leading cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Tobacco smoke is thought to be responsible for 90% of the risk of developing the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is also possible that the smoke is secondhand smoke (tobacco smoke exhaled by a smoker and then breathed in by a non-smoker).

The following are some other causes of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease:

Prolonged exposure to air pollution, such as that found with coal or wood burning, as well as industrial air pollutants

Infectious infections that destroy lung tissue in patients with hyperactive airways or asthma may also contribute to the development of COPD.

Damage to the lung tissue over time produces physical changes in the tissues of the lungs as well as mucus obstruction of the airways. Poor compliance is caused by tissue injury in the lungs (the elasticity, or ability of the lung tissue to expand). Because the lungs' flexibility has decreased, oxygen in the air can not pass through blockages (such as thick mucus plugs) to reach air gaps (alveoli) where oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange occurs in the lung. As a result, the person experiences gradual difficulties, first coughing to eliminate obstructions such as mucus, and then breathing, particularly when exerted.

What are the risk factors for developing COPD?

Tobacco users are at the highest risk of acquiring the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Other risk factors include exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke and significant levels of air pollution, particularly air pollution caused by wood or coal. Individuals with airway hyperresponsiveness, such as those with persistent asthma, are also at a higher risk.

A hereditary condition known as alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency puts a small percentage of people (less than 1%) at a higher risk for COPD (and emphysema) because of a protective component (alpha-1 antitrypsin protein) for lung tissue elasticity is reduced or absent.

Other risk factors for developing the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease include:

use of intravenous drugs,

syndromes of immune insufficiency,

syndrome of vasculitis,

connective tissue problems, as well as

Salla disease is an example of a hereditary issue (an autosomal recessive disorder of sialic acid storage in the body).

What other diseases or conditions are associated with COPD?

In general, three other non-genetic lung tissue abnormalities have a role in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. 1) chronic bronchitis, 2) emphysema, and 3) infectious lung disorders

Many people believe that chronic bronchitis and emphysema are variations of chronic obstructive lung disease and that they are part of the evolution of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Chronic bronchitis is defined as a chronic cough that produces sputum for three months or more over the course of two years.

Emphysema is a permanent abnormal expansion of the air gaps (alveoli) at the ends of the terminal bronchioles of the lungs.

Infectious lung illnesses can cause lung tissue damage and contribute to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

What is COPD treatment?

There are numerous treatments available for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The first and most important step is to quit smoking immediately.

Nicotine replacement therapy, beta-2 agonists and anticholinergic agents (bronchodilators), combined drugs using steroids and long-acting bronchodilators, mucolytic agents, oxygen therapy, and surgical procedures such as bullectomy, lung volume reduction surgery, and lung transplantation are examples of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease drugs.

Treatments are frequently based on the stage of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, such as:

Stage I-as needed, a short-acting bronchodilator

Stage II-As needed, short-acting bronchodilators and long-acting bronchodilators, as well as cardiopulmonary rehabilitation

Stage III-as needed, a short-acting bronchodilator For repeated exacerbations, long-acting bronchodilators, cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, and inhaled glucocorticoids are used.

As needed, long-acting bronchodilators, cardiac rehabilitation, inhaled glucocorticoids, long-term oxygen therapy, possible lung volume reduction surgery, and possibly lung transplantation are used in Stage IV (stage IV has been termed "end-stage" chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

For any lung disease and breathing difficulty, contact our specialist at BEWELL hospital.