Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Senior Medical Care Glossary

What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a progressive lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe. It is a common and preventable disease characterized by airflow limitation that is not fully reversible. COPD includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and is often caused by long-term exposure to irritating gases or particulate matter, most commonly from cigarette smoke.

What are the causes and risk factors of COPD?

The primary cause of COPD is cigarette smoking, accounting for about 90% of cases. Other risk factors include long-term exposure to air pollutants, such as dust, chemical fumes, and secondhand smoke. Genetic factors can also play a role in the development of COPD, as well as respiratory infections during childhood.

What are the symptoms of COPD?

The most common symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath, chronic cough, wheezing, and chest tightness. Individuals with COPD may also experience frequent respiratory infections, fatigue, and unintentional weight loss. Symptoms can vary in severity and may worsen over time, especially during exacerbations.

How is COPD diagnosed and treated?

COPD is typically diagnosed through a combination of medical history, physical examination, lung function tests, and imaging studies. Treatment for COPD aims to relieve symptoms, improve quality of life, and prevent disease progression. This may include medications such as bronchodilators and corticosteroids, pulmonary rehabilitation, oxygen therapy, and in severe cases, surgery or lung transplantation.

What lifestyle changes can help manage COPD?

In addition to medical treatment, lifestyle changes can help individuals manage COPD and improve their overall health. This may include quitting smoking, avoiding exposure to air pollutants, staying physically active, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight. Pulmonary rehabilitation programs can also provide education and support for individuals with COPD.

What is the prognosis for individuals with COPD?

The prognosis for individuals with COPD varies depending on the severity of the disease and the presence of other health conditions. COPD is a progressive disease, meaning that symptoms may worsen over time. However, early diagnosis and treatment can help slow disease progression and improve quality of life. With proper management, many individuals with COPD are able to lead active and fulfilling lives.