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Copd - Symptom, Treatment And Causes

What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease?

COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is the name of a group of progressive lung diseases. The most common illnesses that are associated with COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Sometimes, one person can be affected with both these diseases.

Emphysema is an illness that gradually destroys the air sack in the pulmonary system, which cause difficulty with the outward airflow from the lungs. Bronchitis on the other hand is an illness that causes narrowing and inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which allows mucus to build up in the airway.

Symptoms :

COPD patients often find it’s harder to breath. Although the symptoms of COPD may be mild in the beginning with just coughing and shortness of breath, but as the disease progresses patients suffering from COPD find increasing difficulty in breathing.

Patients affected by this malady experience tightness in their chest along with symptoms like wheezing.

One of the major reasons for developing this disease is smoking. Prolonged exposure to chemical irritants and other harmful external agents like toxic gases can also lead to COPD. Nevertheless, COPD is an ailment that takes pretty long to develop in the patients suffering from this acute respiratory malady.

Diagnosis of COPD is usually done by imaging, blood tests and also LFT (lung Function Test).

There is hardly any cure for this disease. But there are certain treatments that can help to ease the symptoms of this illness and lowers the chances of complications which in turn generally improves the quality of life of the COPD patients.

Treatment :

However, it must be also remembered, if left untreated COPD can lead to severe heart ailments and also worsening respiratory infections in the patients.There are several people all across the globe, who in spite of having this disease are unaware of its presence in their body.To slow the progress of this disease, it’s best to consult a pulmonologist (lung specialist) or a respiratory therapist.Medications that helps in relaxing the muscles of the airway, such as bronchodilators are generally prescribed to the patients suffering from this disease. Bronchodilator medicines are usually inhaled. Glucocorticosteroids are also at times prescribed to the patients for reducing inflammation in their airway tract.Other than these oxygen therapy is also recommended to the patients along with pneumococcal vaccine and an annual dose of flu shots.

When medicines fails to bring comfort in some of the COPD patients, surgery is performed in severe COPD cases, when all other treatments have failed. Surgery like bellectomy is mostly done on COPD patients when they develop a condition known as emphysema, which absolutely destroys the patient’s air sacs.

Can't be cured, but treatment helps Require medical diagnosis Lab test required Chronic: can last for years or be lifelong
Shortness of breath. Wheezing or a chronic cough. Tightness in the chest.

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COPD - Things You Must Always Remember!

MBBS, MD - Pulmonary Medicine, FNB-Critical Care, Europeon Diploma In Adult Respiratory Medicine, Europeon Diploma In Intensive Care, Fellow
Pulmonologist, Delhi
COPD - Things You Must Always Remember!

COPD, also known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a chronic medical condition that triggers extensive damage to the lungs, interfering with its functioning. In COPD, the lungs and the air sacs or the alveoli undergo severe inflammation that gives rise to a host of complications including wheezing, shortness of breath and other related breathing troubles. While an early medical assistance is instrumental in proper management and treatment of COPD, in most cases, the associated symptoms and discomfort appear at a later stage (when the lungs have already undergone damage and inflammation). Thus, a proper awareness about COPD is necessary. In this article, we will discuss some important points related to COPD to help people understand the condition better.

While there can be a plethora of triggers, two of the medical conditions that elevate the incidence of COPD are Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema. The bronchial tubules functions as a carrier transporting the air (oxygenated and deoxygenated) from the lungs to the different body parts and vice versa.

  • In case of Chronic Bronchitis, the lining of these tubules undergo severe inflammation. 
  • In the case of Emphysema, the inner walls of the alveoli may rupture resulting in deleterious consequences including breathlessness.

For long people were of the opinion that COPD only affects people who smoke. However, various surveys suggest that COPD does affect non-smokers as well. While smoking does make a person more susceptible to the condition (COPD as well as Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema), other factors such as chronic and severe neonatal lung ailments or prolonged exposure to the harmful gases and lung irritants can also act as triggers.

Though the incidences of COPD are relatively higher in people above 45 years, the young adults or the middle-aged can also be affected. Also, COPD is not limited to males and can affect females as well. Some of the symptoms associated with COPD include chest tightness, wheezing, breathlessness, chronic cough (often with mucus). These symptoms are quite similar to those of Asthma with people often confusing between the conditions. Thus, a proper diagnosis is vital. Spirometry is a lung test used in the diagnosis of COPD. This test evaluates the functioning of the lungs by measuring the amount of air inhaled and exhaled.

When we talk about the treatment or management of COPD, quitting smoking does improve the condition. For people with breathing troubles and chronic cough, the Bronchodilators (can be long-acting or short-acting Bronchodilators depending on the extent of the discomfort) comes as a great relief. The use of corticosteroids (inhaled) can go a long way to alleviate the inflammation of the airways.

In extreme cases with reduced oxygen reaching the blood, a person may need Oxygen Therapy to improve the condition. Of late the Pulmonary rehabilitation program have been benefiting people in dealing with COPD better. The program involves an amalgamation of counselling sessions to educate the people about the diet and nutrition, precautions to be followed along with some healthy lifestyle changes.

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How You Can Keep Your Lungs Healthy?

MBBS, MD - Pulmonary Medicine, FNB-Critical Care, Europeon Diploma In Adult Respiratory Medicine, Europeon Diploma In Intensive Care, Fellow
Pulmonologist, Delhi
How You Can Keep Your Lungs Healthy?

Lungs are part of the respiratory system, and their main job is to bring fresh air into the body and remove waste gases from the body.

What do the Lungs do?

  • Lungs have a basic function of maintaining the process of gaseous exchange. The blood vessels in the lungs carry oxygen (O2) in the air we breathe to the cells and exchange it for the waste gas carbon dioxide (CO2). This exchange is needed for all our body cells to live.
  • Lungs help to bring air we inhale to the proper body temperature and moisturizes it to the right humidity level.
  • By coughing, sneezing, filtering or swallowing them, lungs protect our body from infections, pollutants and other harmful substances.
  • Lungs also support our sense of smell.

Now that we know the major role of our lungs play in keeping us healthy, it is important that we know the ways to keep them in best of health to lead a problem-free life.

  1. Do not smoke: Smoking increases the risk of lung cancer. Every time one smokes (cigarette, cigar, beedi) toxins like nicotine, carbon monoxide, and tar cause damage to the lungs. Over time these toxins irritate and inflame tissues leading to narrow airways which make it difficult to breathe. Smoking is also related to COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), pulmonary fibrosis and asthma. It is also advised to avoid passive smoking as it may damage the lungs as well.
  2. Exercise more: Exercising will make the heart beat faster and lungs work harder, making them more efficient. During aerobic exercise, our breathing increases from 15 times a minute to about 40 - 60 times a minute, thus stepping up the exchange of O2 and CO2
  3. Avoid exposure to pollutants: air pollutants can damage the lungs and accelerate aging. Reduce your exposure by avoiding:
    • Exercising near heavy traffic, as one tends to inhale the exhaust.
    • Pollutants at work by taking appropriate precautions.
    • Keeping indoor spaces well ventilated, clean (free from molds, dust, pet dander) and appropriately humid 30-50% relative humidity also helps.
  4. Deep breething: Breathing deeply helps the lung to reach its full capacity.
  5. Wash your hands regularly: Washing hands properly can help prevent a majority of infectious respiratory diseases like cold and flu.

Importance of diet in maintaining lungs health:
Eat right and keep yourself hydrated is essential for keeping your lungs healthy. Mentioned below are a few foods that are great for the lungs:

  • Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, kale. A review by Lam TK in 2009 stated that cruciferous vegetable intake may reduce lung cancer incidence.
  • Bright orange and red vegetables-like carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, are rich in carotenoids, known to reduce the risk of developing cancer in the lungs.
  • Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids have beneficial anti-inflammatory effects on human lung cells.
  • Spices like turmeric, ginger and garlic contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties which are good for lung health.
  • Water keeps the blood flowing to and from the lungs. It also keeps mucous flowing and the lungs hydrated.
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Pollution - How Different Masks Can Help You Protect Yourself?

MBBS, MD - Pulmonary Medicine, FNB-Critical Care, Europeon Diploma In Adult Respiratory Medicine, Europeon Diploma In Intensive Care, Fellow
Pulmonologist, Delhi
Pollution - How Different Masks Can Help You Protect Yourself?

The air that we breathe in has become a cauldron of harmful and poisonous gases, particulate matter, chemical fumes and a host of similar toxic substances. Pollution, especially of the air is at an all-time rise. The quality of air is deteriorating with each passing day, triggering a plethora of health problems. Chronic and severe lung and respiratory disorders (such as COPD, Chronic Bronchitis, Asthma, Emphysema), heart and kidney problems, headache, burning eyes, are affecting people (irrespective of their age and sex) like never before. As per WHO, nearly 6.5 million premature deaths worldwide are reported yearly due to pollution, a depressing statistics indeed! Thus, necessary preventive measures should be followed to keep ourselves and our loved ones protected from the deleterious effects of pollution.

The use of Anti-pollution masks to deal with pollution

  • The anti-pollution masks come as a blessing for millions of desperate souls who have been frantically looking for a solution to tackle pollution.
  • The anti-pollution masks act as a shield against the harmful pollutants that often finds its way into our bodies.
  • The different face masks work by filtering out the hazardous particulate matter from the air.
  • Though industrial air masks and the surgical masks are available, most people prefer to go with the more superior quality anti-pollution masks such as N95, N99, and P95 masks.
  • The surgical masks seldom provide any protection from the air pollution as toxic air can pass through the masks without any difficulty.

N95, N99 and P25 Air Masks

  • The particulate matter (PM) in the air can be PM 2.5 or PM 10. PM 2.5 implies that the diameter of the particulate matter is 2.5 micrometers or less.
  • Increased exposure to PM10 (the diameter of the particulate matter is 10 micrometers or less) can result in severe bronchial and respiratory problems (coughing, wheezing, breathing problems, asthma), heart ailments and stroke, a shoot in the blood pressure.
  • As compared to PM 10, PM 2.5 remains suspended in the air for a longer time and can adversely affect the lungs (lung irritation and inflammation), heart (result in plaque formation in the arteries), throat and nose.
  • As indicative of the name, the N95 Air Masks come with superior grade filtration technology that can filter about 95% of the PM 2.5 from the inhaled air. However, when it comes to oil-based pollutants, the effectiveness of N95 air masks takes a downslide.
  • The N99 Air Masks comes with a better filtration rate and can filter out the PM 2.5 from the air with close to 99% efficiency. As seen in N95, the N99 air masks also fail to deliver against oil-based pollutants.
  • The P25 masks come with an added benefit. Unlike the N95 and N99 air masks, the P25 masks are effective against oil-based pollutants and are used to remove PM 2.5 with 95% efficiency.
  • However, be it N95, N99 or P25, one cannot use the masks for more than 40-42 hours (the filter loses its efficiency).
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COPD Is Broken Down To Clinical Scenarios - Chronic Bronchitis & Emphysema!

MD - Physician, Diploma In Tuberculosis & Chest Diseases
Pulmonologist, Mumbai
COPD Is Broken Down To Clinical Scenarios - Chronic Bronchitis & Emphysema!

Chronic Bronchitis is a result of inflamed bronchioles (pipes carrying air to alveoli or balloons) that can produce mucus and lead to coughing and difficulty in breathing. When smoking causes inflammation of the bronchioles, constriction or squeezing takes place. This results in wheezing because air is travelling through narrowed tubes.

Emphysema, in short, is basically a dead lung. As smoke travels farther down your respiratory tract, the air sacs in your lungs (alveoli), start popping out or dying. Your bank of alveoli gets depleted over time as you continue your habits. You will notice as you increase your heart rate whether its by running or walking a flight of stairs this activity requires your red blood cells to move faster through the alveoli and have less time to receive oxygen from the lung. This leads to having less oxygen on red blood cells whose job is to deliver oxygen to the rest of the body.


In COPD, Both the airways(pipes) and lung parenchyma are affected by the disease and airflow limitation is progressive. COPD has been predominantly seen in patients above 40-yearold and frequent smokers.

The symptoms indicative of COPD are as follows:

1) Chronic cough - Also referred to as smoker's cough, the cough is relentless and does not subside with regular cough treatment. This is one of the first indications of COPD.
2) Mucus buildup - There is constant built up of mucus which gets expelled during coughing. The person never feels completely clear of mucus, and the regular cough expectorants do not help relieve the symptoms.
3) Fatigue associated with limited activity - As noted earlier, the reduced capacity of the organs limits their activities. Therefore, regular activities like walking short distances or climbing stairs can induce fatigue.
4) Shortness of breath - The above fatigue is associated with shortness of breath, even with small physical exertion. A person with COPD will see marked tiredness and reduced ability to perform routine chores and feel a tightness in the chest.
5) Wheezing - Passage of air through the obstructed air tubes produces a whistling sound or wheezing. It is more pronounced when there is mucus accumulation in the airways.

Rarely, Frequent respiratory infections, more frequent flu attacks, swelling of the feet and ankles, cardiovascular disease, weight loss, and morning headaches.


While there is no cure for COPD, once it sets, the following are some ways to slow its progression and reduce severity of the symptoms:

1) Bronchodilators - Dilate the air tubes and ease flow of air
2) Corticosteroids - Help reduce inflammation and thereby improve airflow through the tubes
3) Flu vaccination - Helps curb the frequent flu attacks
4) Antibiotics - To contain infections
5) Pulmonary rehabilitation - A combination of breathing exercise and patient education to improve lung function.
6) Oxygen therapy - In very severe cases, oxygen may be required.
7) Lifestyle changes - Eating healthy foods, preventing exposure to dust and smoke, quitting smoking, breathing exercises, bi-annual medical check-ups to monitor lung functions are essential.

Knowing that you have COPD is the first step towards managing COPD, which can be managed effectively.

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Better Living with COPD - A Patient Guide!

MD - Pulmonary, DTCD
Pulmonologist, Faridabad
Better Living with COPD - A Patient Guide!

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD for short is a respiratory disease that makes it increasingly difficult to breathe; the lungs stop functioning properly. There are mainly two categories of COPD which are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. The primary reason for COPD is longstanding exposure to substances such as cigarette smoke, chemical fumes and air pollutants that damage the lungs gradually.

Initially, the symptoms of COPD may be really mild but over time it may become extremely severe. These include symptoms such as:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing with mucous formation
  • Wheezing or gasping
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Feeling tired constantly after doing normal daily activities or after exercising.

In the long run, the damages can prove to be permanent.

Of the two subtypes mentioned, bronchitis is when the airways become inflamed as well as narrowed. People suffering from bronchitis tend to produce sputum which is basically a combination of mucus and saliva.
And the other subtype, Emphysema is the condition when the air sacs in the lungs become affected. The air sacs degenerate and become baggy with lots of holes in it. This, in turn, traps air. This narrows the airways making it difficult to breathe. In COPD, there is a narrowing of the lungs because:

  1. The lining of the airway becomes inflamed
  2. The lining of the airways which is elastic flops
  3. The tissues of the lungs become damaged so there is an exertion on the airway.

COPD, in the long run, can lead to a number of health complications such as heart disorders, lung cancer, respiratory infections, depression and high blood pressure. COPD is treatable but not curable because it is a life-long condition. The following are some of the treatment methods for COPD:

  1. Oxygen Therapy- If you are experiencing low levels of oxygen then opting for a portable oxygen unit will be extremely beneficial.
  2. Medication- Bronchodilators help in relaxing the airway muscles for comfortable breathing. These medications are usually taken via an inhaler. Other medications include corticosteroids, theophylline, vaccines and antibiotics/antivirals.
  3. Surgery- Surgery is usually advised as the last step when the COPD condition has become so severe that all other methods of treatment have failed. This is, more possible, in the case of emphysema. There are mainly two surgical methods: one is bullectomy when the surgeons remove the damaged air sacs. The other method is lung volume reduction which removes the lung tissues that have become damaged.

Adopting certain lifestyle changes can provide relief for the time being. Such alterations include:

  1. Quit smoking immediately, if you haven’t already.
  2. Try to avoid passive smoking as much as possible. Passive smoking is as damaging as firsthand smoking.
  3. Give your body the daily dose of nutrition so that the immune system doesn’t falter as well.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

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Popular Questions & Answers

Hi, I have copd since 6 yrs. In these 6 years 5 times. I had breathlessness and hospitalised. I take regular inhalers (seroflo & duolin) 2 puffs 12 hourly and 2 tablets deriphyllin 1 bd and montelukast 1 od. Even then my copd exacerbates. What could be the reason and what are the precautions should I take?

MD - Pulmonary, DTCD
Pulmonologist, Faridabad
Need to change to LAMA ,LABA AND ICS combination by inhalation. In COPD montelukast have no roll. Get adult immunization and rehabilitation. Treat any co morbid disease,
1 person found this helpful

I am 23 year old female. I have a history of abdominal tuberculosis, diagnosed 3 year ago and treated well. But I have recurrent cough and phlegm production and it is chronic from last 4-5 year with every season change. So I want to confirm is it COPD? Or some other problem?

Diploma In Gastroenterology, Diploma In Dermatology, BHMS
Homeopath, Hyderabad
The best way to prevent COPD is to not start smoking or to quit smoking. ... Also, try to avoid lung irritants that can contribute to COPD, such as air pollution, chemical fumes, dusts, and secondhand smoke, which is smoke in the air from other people smoking.

My father has copd from last 12 years now he has to hospitalized after 3 month regularly due to shortness of breath, chest tightness and dry cough. After coming home he is fine for 1 month only afterwards problem starts increasing.

MD - Pulmonary, DTCD
Pulmonologist, Faridabad
Recuurent copd execerbation. Try to identify cause for it and treat that. Can start ultra LABA and ULTRA LAMA combination. Have adult vaccination. Do pulmonary rehabilitation.
1 person found this helpful

Table of Content

What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease?

Symptoms :

Treatment :

Play video
Inhalation Therapy In Respiratory Disorder
Good afternoon!

I am Dr. Hemant Kalra. I am a pulmonologist. Today our talk will be about inhalation therapy in respiratory disorders. So what is inhalation? Inhalation is when we give drugs or solution of drugs by nasal or oral respiratory route. Inhalation is also called inspiration. What is the inspiration? Inspiration is movement of air from external environment by our breathing pipes into our lungs. This is inhalation and inspiration also. In which conditions we use inhalation therapy? Inhalation therapy is used in Obstructive Airway Disorders. What are these disorders? These are Asthma, COPD, Bronchitis and some cases of Sarcoidosis. You may ask me why tablets and syrups are not used in such disorders?

Why inhalation therapy is preferred over tablets and syrup in such disorders because- tablets and syrup are in high doses, they are very toxic, very costly, they reach systemic blood circulation, they have got adverse side effects. When you give a drug, tablet or syrup it first enters your stomach, then via your blood stream it enters your airways where inflammation is there and where these types of drugs are required. So why to give a drug in oral or syrup form when inhalation therapies are available. Inhalation therapies takes drugs directly where it is required. Inhalation therapy can be given in various forms. First is metered dose inhaler. You might have seen inhaler people using in movies.

Dry powder inhalers are also available in market and other forms like nebulation is also available. What drugs can be given in inhalation therapies? We can give bronchodilators, which can open up the airways. We can give Cortico-steroids. Mucolytics and some antibiotics can also be given via inhalation route. Nowadays insulin is also given in inhalation route. Inhalation therapy is very very effective in certain disorders. I started this topic because I felt that we in India do not use inhalation therapy because of various myths in our society. So what are the myths? Firstly, inhalers are very costly- absolutely wrong. Secondly, inhalers are addictive- absolutely wrong. Thirdly, inhalers have got side effects- also absolutely wrong. Inhalers do not have any side effects. I can assure you this that inhalers can be given in pregnancy from day 1 to 9th month when very few drugs are recommended in pregnancy.

It can be given in any age group from 1 year to 90 years. Fifthly, inhalers are always given when disease is very severe- it is also wrong. On the contrary inhalers are recommended or should be given as early as possible in the disease. So inhalation therapy is the best option for any kind of obstructive airway disorders. I can proudly say that we have got the best inhalation technique or inhalers available in India. You must use them as advised by the doctor. Do not say no when the doctor writes an inhaler for you. It is the best option for obstructive airway disorders because it is most effective with no side effects, very cheap and can be given for many years. Thank you very much! In the nutshell please use inhalers as adviced by a doctors. Do not hesitate to take inhalers. Inhalers are best option for obstructive airway disorders, very safe, very effective, no side effect and very cheap.

Thank you very much!
Play video
Understanding what causes COPD and what are the signs that a person might be suffering from it.

Clinical diagnosis of COPD is usually made by presence of symptoms that is cough, sputum production, breathlessness and spirometry. Assessment of COPD is also made by spirometry and rate of excess exacerbation. With each exacerbation there is increased breathlessness, increase in the sputum production, increase in cough, there is sputum may be dark in color which shows infection. For each excess exacerbation there is permanent damage of a lung and severity of the COPD may increase.

Treatment of COPD is by pharmacotherapy which aims to control the symptoms of the patient and prevent exacerbation. If you prevent the exacerbation then the patient health improves and prevent further damage to the lungs. If a patient is Breathless on walking at ground level, then the patient may be helped by rehabilitation and by increasing the day to day activities. Exacerbation can be prevented by adult vaccination that is vaccination for non invasive pneumococcal infection and flu vaccination. This disease is gradually progressive. Symptoms can be controlled with pharmacotherapy. But the disease cannot be cured. The main aim of the diseases to prevent and to prevent is hundred percent. If one avoid smoking, exposure to occupational gases and inter Biomass exposure. Patient of COPD should consult a chest physician or respiratory physician.

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