1. What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common, long-standing, inflammatory lung disease. It obstructs airflow from the lungs and makes breathing difficult. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are the two forms of COPD.
2. What are the symptoms associated with COPD?
The common COPD symptoms are prolonged cough with mucus production and shortness of breath (more during physical activities). Other symptoms seen are chest tightness, wheezing, frequent respiratory infections, unintended weight loss and lack of energy. Symptoms get progressively worse over time. Some people experience flare-ups of these symptoms that last several days.
3. What are the causes of COPD?
Smoking is the main cause of COPD. In homes that are poorly ventilated, exposure to fumes that arise from burning fuel for heating or cooking is another cause. Long-term exposure to air pollution, dust, smoke and chemical fumes (usually at the workplace) can damage the airways and result in COPD.
4. How is COPD diagnosed?
COPD is diagnosed based on the symptoms, medical history and physical examination. Your doctor will use a stethoscope to listen to your lung sounds. Spirometry is a common pulmonary function test done to measure the amount of air your lungs can hold and how fast you can breathe it out. A chest X-ray may also be done for a detailed look at your lungs.
5. Is COPD same as asthma?
No. COPD and asthma have similar symptoms but are different conditions. COPD is a group of conditions that causes breathing difficulties, while asthma is a separate respiratory disease. COPD symptoms are more constant and include a cough with mucus, while asthma causes attacks of wheezing and chest tightness. COPD usually occurs in people over 40 years; asthma can affect people of any age.