Workup consists of a detailed history, tests and physical examination.
On the results of laboratory tests and radiography, diagnosis is made and treatment is immediately begun.
Medications that can be used include:
Cessation of smoking
Smoking should be immediately stopped to prevent the disease from worsening.
Removal of pollutants
Prolonged exposure to pollutants, such as smoke, asbestos, silica, etc should be avoided.
COPD is due to irreversible damage to the airways. This means this disease can be managed, not treated. Prognosis depends upon the stage of the disease and the treatment started. With appropriate treatment and cessation of smoking, COPD can be prevented from worsening and a relatively healthy life style can be adopted.
In most patients, COPD is the result of long-term heavy cigarette smoking; about 10% of patients are nonsmokers . Other causes may include alpha-1 anti-trypsin deficiency, bronchiectasis and cystic fibrosis. Exposure to large amounts of air pollutants may also lead to development of COPD.
Whatever the exact cause may be, the common factor is airway irritation, which leads to inflammation and then damage. This results first in mucosal and glandular changes in the airways, and as the disease progresses, these changes are unable to match up with the continuously on going irritation, and irreversible damage occurs. The type of COPD depends upon the exact causative factor.
COPD is estimated to be the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and the sixth leading cause of death world wide.
Sex and Race
There is a clear cut association between heavy cigarette smoking and emphysema, and women and African-Americans are more susceptible than other groups . However, generally men are much more commonly found to be suffering from COPD than women.
COPD is more common in people, particularly men, aged 40 years and above.
COPD is a vast term that is used to describe three prominent disorders collectively. These include the following:
Emphysema is a condition of the lung characterised by irreversible enlargement of the air spaces distal to the terminal bronchiole, accompanied by destruction of their walls without obvious fibrosis .
It is defined clinically as persistent productive cough for at least 3 months in 2 (or more) consecutive years. The earliest feature of chronic bronchitis is hypersecretion of mucus in the large airways, associated with hypertrophy of the submucosal glands in the trachea and bronchi .
It is a chronic inflammatory disorder in which patients suffer from recurrent episodes of wheezing, breathlessness and cough. Many cells play a role in the inflammatory response, in particular lymphocytes, eosinophils, mast cells, macrophages, neutrophils and epithelial cells .
Chronic bronchiolitis, or small airway disease, also comes under the COPD category and shares many characteristics with the former two conditions. In a recent study, the overlap between these three disorders was found to be substantial .
The use of continuous prophylactic antibiotics results in a clinically significant benefit in reducing exacerbations in COPD .
COPD can be easily prevented by not smoking tobacco and other such harmful agents. Also, avoiding exposure to pollutants can also prevent this disease from occurring.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common respiratory condition involving the airways and characterised by airflow limitation . It is diagnosed based on clinical findings and results of pulmonary function tests. In acute COPD, symptoms are mild and the disease is often missed. As the disease progresses, varying symptoms present in different people.
The most common causative factor is heavy smoking. People exposed to a large amount of air pollutants are also at risk for developing this disease. It has no cure, but can be appropriately managed with cessation of smoking, removing pollutants (if any) and by taking prescribed medications.