COPD – Causes, Stage, Treatment and More

What is COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a chronic and progressive pulmonary disease that causes airway obstruction in the lungs.(1)

There are two common diseases involved in COPD which are  emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Many people with COPD are affected by both diseases.(2)

Emphysema is slowly destroying air sacs in your lungs, which impades with outward air flow. Bronchitis causes the bronchi to become inflamed and shrink, causing the accumulation of mucus.

Approximately 30 million people in the US are estimated to have COPD. Half of them do not know that they are infected with this disease.

COPD may result in more rapid development of diseases such as heart problems, It makes respiratory infections worse if not treated.

Symptoms of COPD?

COPD causes difficulty breathing. Symptoms can be mild in the beginning, beginning with an intermittent cough and shortness of breath. As it progresses, the symptoms may become more serious and consistent until it becomes more and more difficult to breathe.(3)

You may experience wheezing and chest tightness or too much sputum production. Some COPD sufferers have acute aggravations, which are outbreaks of serious symptoms.

Early symptoms

In the beginning, the symptoms of COPD may be rather mild. You might think it’s a cold.

The first symptoms are:

  • shortness of breath infrequently, after exercise
  • Minor but frequent cough.
  • necessary for clearing your throat frequently, Especially during the first hour of the morning.

You could start making precise changes, such as avoiding stairs and stop physical activities.

Worsening symptoms

Symptoms may get worse all the time and become more difficult to ignore. As lung damage increases, you can experience:

  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea), even after slight forms of exercise, such as climbing a staircase when walking.
  • wheezing, which is a type of high-pitched noisy breathing, mainly during exhalations
  • chest tightness
  • chronic cough, mucus or no mucus.
  • necessary to clean the mucus from your lungs each day
  • reccuring colds, flu, or other respiratory infections
  • lack of energy and fatigue

As COPD progresses, symptoms can also include:

  • tiredness and exhaustion.
  • swelling in your feet, ankles or legs.
  • weight loss

The symptoms are likely much more severe if you smoke now or if you are continually exposed to second-hand smoke.

What causes COPD?

Most COPD patients are at least 40 years old and have a history of smoking. The more cigarettes you smoke, the higher the risk of COPD.

In addition to tobacco smoke, cigar smoke, pipe smoke and second-hand smoke can cause COPD. You are even more at risk for COPD if you have asthma and smoke.

Other causes

You may also get COPD if you are frequently exposed to chemicals and fumes at work. Long-term exposure to air pollution and inhalation of dust may also result in COPD.

In the developing world, with tobacco smoke, houses are generally not properly ventilated, forcing families to breathe vapours or fumes from combustion of fuel used for cooking and heating.

Genetic predisposition to the development of COPD may be present. It is estimated that up to 5% of COPD sufferers have a protein deficiency known as alpha-1-antitrypsin.

It causes damage to the lungs and may also affect the liver. Other genetic factors may also be associated with it.

Diagnosing COPD

COPD does not have a single test, The diagnosis depends on the symptoms, a physical examination and the results of the diagnostic tests.

When visiting the doctor, remember to include all of your symptoms. Tell your health care provider if:

  • You either smoke or you already smoked.
  • You are at risk of lung irritants at work.
  • Your exposure to a lot of second-hand smoke.
  • You come with a family history of COPD.
  • You suffer from asthma and other breathing problems.
  • you are using over-the-counter or prescription drugs.

Exam and tests

While performing the physical examination, Your physician will listen to your lungs when you breathe with a sthethoscope. According to all these reports, your doctor can perform some of these tests to obtain a full analysis:

  • Spirometry is a non-invasive test that evaluates pulmonary function. During the test, you will be breathing deeply and breathing in a tube attached to the spirometer.
  • Imaging tests, like a chest x-ray or computed tomography (CT scan). These images may give a full overview of your lungs, blood vessels and heart.
  • Blood gas test for artery. It involves collecting a blood sample from an artery to measure oxygen, carbon dioxide and other important levels of your blood.

These tests may help you determine if you are suffering from COPD or other conditions. such as asthma, a restrictive lung disease, or heart failure.

Treatment for COPD

Treatment may combine symptoms, prevention of complications, and generally slow the progress of the disease. Your health care team may consist of a lung specialist (pulmonologist) and physical and respiratory therapists.

Oxygen therapy

If you have a very low level of oxygen in your blood, You may receive additional oxygen through a mask or nasal cannula that may aid in breathing. A portable unit can help move people around.


Surgery is carried out in severe COPD or where other treatments have failed, This is more likely if you have a form of severe emphysema.

A type of surgery is called a bullectomy. As part of this procedure, surgeons remove large areas of abnormal air (bubbles) from the lungs.

A second procedure is pulmonary volume reduction surgery, It removes damaged lung tissue. Lung volume reduction surgery can successfully improve respiration, However, few patients go through this important, somewhat risky procedure.

Lung transplantation is an option in some cases. Lung transplants can successfully cure COPD, but they carry a number of risks.

A less invasive method is available to improve airflow capacity in persons with severe emphysema known as endobronchial valves (EBV), which are one-way valves that redirect inhaled air to healthy lungs and away from damaged lungs that do not work.

In 2018, a EBV device called Zaphyr Endobronchial Valve was approved by the FDA and has been shown to improve pulmonary function, the capacity and quality of life of patients with emphysema.

Lifestyle changes

Some lifestyle changes can also help ease your symptoms or ease your pain.

  • If you smoke, give up smoking. Your doctor can offer you appropriate supportive products or services.
  • If possible, avoid secondary smoke or chemical fumes.
  • Get proper nutrition, which your body needs. Collaborate with your physician or dietitian to develop a healthy eating plan.
  • Take help from your doctor on the amount of exercise is no danger to you.

COPD Medications

Medicines may decrease symptoms and reduce flare-ups. Trial and error may be necessary to determine which medication and dosing is right for you, but here are some of your options:

Inhaled bronchodilators

Medications known as bronchodilators help to loosen tight or hard muscles in your respiratory tract. Most are taken by an inhaler or nebulizer.

The short-acting bronchodilators are 4-6 hours long. They are only used when needed. For progressive symptoms, there are extended-action forms that you can use each day. They take approximately 12 hours to complete.

For individuals with COPD who experience shortness of breath, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing during exercise, The American Thoracic Society strongly suggests a prolonged-action beta-agonist (LABA) in combination with a sustained-action muscarinic antagonist (LAMA).

These bronchodilators function by relaxing or loosening the constricted muscles in the respiratory tract, that expands your respiratory tract for better air circulation. They also help your body to remove mucous from the lungs. Both types of bronchodilators may be used together with an inhaler or nebulizer.

The following is a list of recommended LABA/LAMA bronchodilator treatments:

  • aclidinium/formoterol
  • umeclidinium/vilanterol


Long-acting bronchodilators are usually used in combination with inhaled glucocorticosteroids. A glucocorticosteroid may reduce inflammation of the respiratory tract and reduce mucous production.

Long-acting bronchodilators can relax the airway muscle to help keep the airways wider. Corticosteroids are available as a pill as well.

Phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitors

It can be taken as a pill to help reduce inflammation and relax the airway. It is usually recommended for serious COPD with chronic bronchitis.


This medication provides relief from chest tightness and shortness of breath. It can help prevent as well. This is available as a pill.

Theophylline is an older medicine that contributes to the relaxation of airway muscle, and that can cause side effects. This is not generally the first line of treatment for COPD.

Antibiotics and antivirals

Antibiotics or antiviral medications may be recommended when you become infected with some respiratory infections.


To reduce the chance of further respiratory infections, talk to your physician if you should receive an annual flu shot, pneumococcal vaccine and tetanus booster which includes the prevention of pertussis (pertussis).

Dietary recommendations for people who have COPD.

There is not a diet regime for COPD, However, healthy nutrition is necessary to maintain overall health. The stronger you are, the more effective you will be at preventing complications and other health problems.

Select a variety of nutritional foods from the following groups:

  • grains
  • nuts
  • protein
  • vegetables
  • fruits
  • dairy products

Also, make sure you take a limited amount of salt. It makes the body retain water, which can cause respiratory problems.


Drink lots of fluids. Drinking at least six to eight 8-ounce glasses of non-alcoholic beverages a day may help keep your mucus thinner. It can make mucous easier to cough out.

Control caffeinated fluids because they may affect medications. If you suffer from heart problems, You may need to drink a small amount, so take help from your physician.

Weight management

You need to maintain a healthy weight. It takes more energy to breathe during COPD, This means that you may need to take more calories. But if you become overweight, your lungs and heart may need to work harder.

If you suffer from underweight or weakness, even primary body maintenance can be difficult. Overall, COPD weakens your immune system and decreases your ability to fight the infection.

Eating habits

A full stomach makes it difficult for your lungs to expand and results in shortness of breath or dyspnea. If you think this is happening to you, follow these cures:

  • Clear the respiratory tract approximately one hour before eating.
  • Take small bites of food, which you chew slowly before eating.
  • Replace 3 meals per day with 5 or 6 small meals.
  • Keep liquids till the end to feel less full during the meal.

Living with COPD

COPD requires long-term disease management. To do this, you need to follow your health care team’s guidance and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Because your lungs are weakened, you will want to avoid anything that could harm them or trigger an explosion. Here is a list of tips for adapting your life style.

  • Avoid smoking. If you find it difficult to quit smoking, ask your doctor for help with smoking cessation programs. Try to keep away from second-hand smoke, chemical fumes, air pollution and dust.
  • Work out. A small exercise a day may help you maintain your strength. Discuss with your doctor how much exercise is right for you.
  • Eat a diet of nutritious foods. Avoid high-processed foods, which are full of calories and salt, but lack nutrients.
  • Treating other conditions. If there are other chronic conditions with COPD, they need to be managed as well, especially diabetes mellitus and heart disease.
  • Clean house. Clean out theizations and resources for mess and streamline your house This means that cleaning and other household tasks require little energy. If you are suffering from advanced COPD, get help with day-to-day tasks.
  • Be prepared for flare-ups. Bring your emergency contact details with you and display them on your fridge. Include information on the drugs you are taking, including dosages. Set emergency numbers for your phone.
  • Find support. It may be relaxing to speak to people who understand. Consider becoming a member of a support group. The COPD Foundation provides a complete list of organizations and resources for individuals living with COPD.

Stages of COPD?

An COPD measurement is obtained using the spirometric grading.

There are different filing systems, and a filing system is included in the GOLD classification. The GOLD classification is used to determine the severity of COPD and to assist in the development of a prognosis and treatment plan.

There are four GOLD grades according to spirometric tests:

  • grade 1: mild
  • grade 2: moderate
  • grade 3: severe
  • grade 4: very severe

This is based upon the result of the spirometric test of your FEV1. This is the quantity of air that you can exhale from the lungs during the first second of a forced exhalation. The severity goes up as your FEV1 drops.

The GOLD classification also takes into consideration your specific symptoms and history of acute worsening. Based on this information, your physician may designate a group of letters to help you specify your COPD rank or grade.

As your illness progresses, you are at a greater risk for developing complications, such as:

  • respiratory infections, like colds, flu and pneumonia.
  • heart complications
  • hypertension of the pulmonary arteries. (pulmonary hypertension)
  • lungs cancer
  • anxiety and depression

Is COPD related to lung cancer?

COPD and lung cancer are significant global health concerns. There are a number of links between these two diseases.

Both COPD and lung cancer share a number of risk factors. Tobacco use is the main risk factor in both diseases. Both are most likely if you breathe second-hand smoke, or if you come into contact with chemicals or other fumes at the workplace.

Genetic predisposition to the development of these two diseases may exist. The risk of development of COPD and lung cancer also increases with age.

In 2009, approximately 40% to 70% of lung cancer patients also suffered from COPD. The 2009 study also identified COPD as a risk factor for lung cancer.

According to a 2015 study, there may be different perspectives on the same disease, and this COPD has the potential to cause lung cancer.

Sometimes people don’t know they have COPD until they’re diagnosed with lung cancer.

While, having COPD does not basically mean that you will have lung cancer. It means that there is greater risk for COPD. That’s another reason why, if you smoke, the shutdown is helpful.

COPD statistics

An estimated 65 million individuals worldwide suffer from moderate to severe COPD. An estimated 16 million adults in the United States are diagnosed with COPD.

Most COPD patients are 40 years of age and older.

Most people suffering from COPD are smokers or former smokers. Tobacco use is the largest risk factor that can be altered.

In about 5 percent of people suffering from COPD, the reason is a genetic disease, including a protein deficiency known as alpha-1-anti-trypsin.

COPD is one of the main causes of hospitalisation in industrialised countries. In the U.S., COPD has a large number of emergency department visits and hospitalizations.

In 2000, we saw more than 700,000 hospital admissions and approximately 1.5 million emergency room visits.

COPD is the third leading killer in the US. More women die from this disease than men per year.

It is expected that the number of patients diagnosed with COPD will increase by more than 150% between n 2010 and 2030. A large portion of this amount may be allocated to the aging of the population.

What are the prospects for people who have COPD?

While COPD generally decreases life expectancy, the perspective varies considerably from person to person.

COPD sufferers who have never smoked may have reduced life expectancy, while existing smokers and smokers are likely to have a greater reduction in life expectancy.

COPD is developing over time. Maybe you’re not even aware that you have it in the early stages.

Once the diagnosis is made, you should begin to consult your doctor every day. You will also need to follow steps to monitor your condition and make appropriate changes in your everyday life.

Initial symptoms may usually be controlled and Some lifestyle improvements may help you maintain a good quality of life over a period of time.

Because the condition continues, symptoms can become increasingly restrictive.

Individuals in the advanced stages of COPD may be unable to take care of themselves without help. They are more likely to develop respiratory infections, cardiac complications and lung cancer. They may also be likely to experience depression and anxiety.

Besides smoking, your interpretation depends on how you respond to the therapy and whether you can avoid serious problems. Your doctor is best placed to assess your overall health and provide you with an idea of what to expect.

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