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COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. It is the name given to a collection of lung diseases, the main hallmark of which is chronic inflammation of the lung parenchyma. The more common components of this disease are Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis.

Bronchitis is inflammation of the cells lining the bronchioles of the airway, which carry air to the air sacs (alveoli). The main symptom is a productive (mucus producing) cough, for at least three months a year, for two consecutive years.

Emphysema is inflammation of the alveoli, where there is exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.


The symptoms of COPD appear late in the disease when significant lung damage has occurred, and they worsen with time. Some of the common signs and symptoms of this disease are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Having to clear throat multiple times, because of excess mucus production
  • Chronic cough (with or without sputum)
  • Blue discoloration of the lips and fingernail beds
  • Lack of energy
  • Recurrent respiratory infections
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Acute exacerbation of the normal symptoms


Following are some of the major causes of COPD:


For COPD, a proper history will point us to a diagnosis, and we can use some of the following tests to confirm the diagnosis:

  • Pulmonary function tests
  • Chest X ray
  • CT scan chest
  • Arterial blood gases
  • Alpha 1 antitrypsin test


The treatment of COPD depends on both, lifestyle changes, and medical therapies:

  • Smoking cessation
  • Medications (Bronchodilators, Oral steroids, Inhaled steroids, Phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitors)
  • Lung therapies (Oxygen therapy, Pulmonary rehabilitation program)
  • Surgery (Lung transplant)
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