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Chronic obstructive Pulmonary Disease Symptoms & Causes (COPD)

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Chronic obstructive Pulmonary Disease Symptoms & Causes

It is a condition which is characterised by persistent respiratory symptoms with chronic obstruction to the airflow, which are irreversible changes.

There is destruction of the air-sacs/alveoli leading to form a large air sac (emphysema), enlargement of the air spaces (chronic bronchitis) with decrease in number and narrowing of the small bronchioles (small airway disease). All these lead to poor absorption of oxygen and trapping of air in the lungs causing shortness of breath. In this article, you will know about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease symptoms and causes. 


How does it all happen?

• The airways and the air sac loose their elasticity where the walls between the sacs are destroyed and walls of the airway become inflamed and thickened.

• There is inflammation of the bronchial tubes lining through which the air passes to and fro from the lungs.

• Primary mechanism is the excessive mucus production which results due to hypersecretion and overproduction by the goblet cells and decreased rate of mucus elimination.

• Mucus metaplasia is common in COPD patients.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Causes:

• Environmental stimuli: smoking, being the most common cause. Passive smoking also results in being a cause of chronic bronchitis. Then environmental factors like air pollution, engine & welding fumes, dust particles, fire smoke, house paints in case of building contractors and certain hair products/sprays for individual working at hair salon.

• Accompanied with other diseases like tuberculosis, asthma, pulmonary fibrosis and in immunocompromised patients.

• GERD causes repetitive episodes of reflux in the throat which irritates the throat lining predisposing it to developing bronchitis.

Chronic obstructive Pulmonary Disease Symptoms:

Chronic obstructive Pulmonary Disease Symptoms includes:-

• Cough which is often referred to as smokers’ cough.

• Mucus production, can have a yellow discoloration to it.

• Chest discomfort experienced in form of tightness of chest and shortness of breath.

• Wheezing

• Fatigue


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Alarming signs:

• Bluish discolouration of fingernails or lips (cyanosis) this is due to low oxygen levels in your blood.

• Breathing problems which get aggravated on talking or doing any activity

• Confusion or fainting attacks.

• Palpitation/ if you feel your heart if racing too fast.

Risk factors Of Chronic obstructive Pulmonary Disease:

After the Chronic obstructive Pulmonary Disease symptoms and signs you should also know about the risk factors of Chronic obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

• Smoking: the most significant risk factor for COPD is long-term tobacco smoking. It is also affects passive smokers and people who are marijuana smokers.

• Asthma: it’s a chronic inflammatory airway disease hence it increases the risk of developing COPD, especially if the person is a smoker.

• Occupational hazards: exposure to chemicals, dust, fumes and vapours irritate the lung and cause inflammatory changes and damage. Even in rural areas where cooking is done by burning fuel, inhalation of such toxic fumes increases the risk of developing COPD.

• Age: More common in individuals who are above 40 years of age.

• Genetics: It is believed that alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency is the cause of developing COPD.

Complications of Chronic obstructive Pulmonary Disease:

• Infections. It is very easy to catch colds, the flu and pneumonia in patients with COPD which makes breathing more difficult for the individual and can indirectly add to damaging of the lung tissue.

• Heart attacks: Individuals with history of COPD are at higher risk of developing heart attacks especially with history of smoking.

• Lung cancer. People with COPD have a higher risk of developing lung cancer. Quitting smoking may reduce this risk.

• Pulmonary hypertension: COPD may cause high blood pressure in the arteries that bring blood to your lungs.

• Depression. Difficulty in breathing can prevent one from carrying day to day activities and this affects the mental health of any individuals , hence consult doctor if you feel depressed.

Chronic obstructive Pulmonary Disease Diagnosis:

• Lung function test – Spirometer devices are used to assess the pulmonary functioning in form of how long the lung can hold , take in and move out the air. (less air in – restrictive type;less air out- obstructive type of lung disease).It is also helpful in assessment of the on going treatment and in grading the seriousness the disease.

COPD Prevention:

• Quit smoking: Quit cigarette smoking and avoid being a passive smoker as well.

• Wear a mask (N95 respirators) to avoid environmental stimuli like pollution, dust, fire smokes, by professionals at salons and building contractors, since they increase the risk of developing COPD.

• Vaccines: Getting annual flu vaccines to prevent influenza and virus and vaccine to prevent certain types of pneumonia.

• Maintaining hygiene: Simple steps like washing hands, use of hand sanitizers, and wearing a mask can prevent from infections and its spread.

COPD Treatment:

• Cessation of smoking as it improves the mucociliary function with decrease in the hyperplasia of the goblet cells.

• Including Pulmonary rehabilitation like chest physiotherapy, flutter valve and high frequency chest wall oscillators since they augment the shear stress to improve the mucociliary clearance.


• Choose complex carbohydrates like whole grain, pasta, fresh fruits & vegetables over simple carbohydrates like sugar, candy cake and soft drinks

• Eat 20-30 g of fibre daily


• Getting good sleep over comes the fatigue caused by chronic bronchitis and helps in repairing the damaged tissues. One should try sleeping with head raised by use of pillows since this facilities a smooth breathing process and helps in clearing the mucus.


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