Signs and symptoms of COPD
- Shortness of breath while doing everyday activities or during physical activities
- Chronic cough
- Chest tightness
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Blueness of the lips or fingernail beds
- General fatigue and lack of energy or chronic fatigue syndrome
- Producing a lot of mucus or phlegm
- Having to clear your throat first thing in the morning, due to excess mucus in your lungs
- Unintended weight loss (in later stages)
If you have one or more of these symptoms on a regular basis, then you definitely want to seek medical advice. Symptoms of COPD often don’t appear until significant lung damage has occurred, and they usually worsen over time, particularly if smoking exposure continues. COPD is commonly misdiagnosed — former smokers may sometimes be told they have COPD, when in reality they may have simple deconditioning or another less common lung condition. Likewise, many people who have COPD may not be diagnosed until the disease is advanced and interventions are less effective.
Diagnosis several tests: Lung (pulmonary) function tests, Chest X-ray, CT scan, Spirometry, Arterial blood gas analysis, Laboratory tests
There are four stages of COPD:
- Stage 1 — very mild COPD
- Stage 2 — moderate COPD
- Stage 3 — severe emphysema/chronic bronchitis
- Stage 4 — very severe COPD
Each of these stages has a different impact on each sufferer, but generally speaking, the higher the stage of COPD, the shorter the life expectancy.
COPD Risk Factors & Root Causes
In developed countries, the central cause of COPD is tobacco smoking.
In the developing world, COPD often occurs in people exposed to fumes from burning fuel for cooking and heating in poorly ventilated homes.
Root causes and risk factors for COPD include:
- Tobacco smoke exposure
- People with asthma who smoke
- Occupational exposure to chemicals and dust
- In about 1 percent of people with COPD in childhood conditions
- Smoking cessation
- Inhaled steroids
- Combination inhalers
- Oral steroids
- Phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitors
- Lung therapies
- Oxygen therapy
- Pulmonary rehabilitation program. These programs generally combine education, exercise training, nutrition advice and counseling.
- Surgery includes: Lung volume reduction surgery. Lung transplant. Bullectomy.