Asthma99
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Overview

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of lung diseases that cause breathing problems and airflow obstruction. Included in this group of diseases are refractory (severe) asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

In 2013 report by the American Lung Association found that women are 37 percent more likely than men to have COPD and account for more than half the COPD deaths in the United States. In 2011, chronic lower respiratory diseases — primarily COPD — was the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Sign & Symptoms

  • Coughing – more at night, laughing, exercising,
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Whistling - Wheezing sound in chest
  • Difficult breathing or fast breathing causing the skin around the ribs or neck to pull in tightly
  • Frequent colds that settle in the chest

Diagnosis

  • COPD is diagnosed most frequently in people between the age of 50+
  • Chronic smokers
  • History of severe asthma
  • History of long-term exposure to air irritants, industrial chemicals and tobacco smoke
  • Family history of COPD

Management & Treatment

COPD may not be known to the person until it’s in “moderate” stage, meaning person is experiencing frequent shortness of breath, coughing and heavier-than-normal mucus. Misdiagnosis can occur because the symptoms of COPD mimic other respiratory conditions, such as asthma.

COPD treatment is very unique in approach as it is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Each patient will requires a treatment plan customized for his or her specific needs. Treatment may include medication to help alleviate symptoms, supplemental oxygen, pulmonary rehabilitation, lifestyle changes like - exercise, breathing techniques and avoidance of air pollutants. For smokers, the most important part of treatment will be quitting the use of tobacco.