COPD Symptoms and Signs
COPD is characterized by a longstanding (chronic) obstruction to air flow out of the lungs. It can take different forms and have different symptoms. Symptoms of COPD can also vary in severity.
COPD Symptoms include:
- a chronic cough,
- shortness of breath,
- and frequent respiratory infections
Other COPD possible symptoms can include
- finger clubbing,
- wheezing, exercise intolerance,
- chest tightness,
- cough productive of sputum,
- and coughing up blood.
Quick GuideCOPD Lung Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment
COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) definition and facts
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is
a chronic condition in which there is a slow, progressive
obstruction of airflow into or out of the lungs.
- The primary
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is
cigarette smoking and/or exposure to tobacco smoke; other
causes include air pollution, infectious diseases and genetic conditions.
- The risk factors of
COPD is increased by smoking tobacco, secondhand smoke, air pollution,
alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency and a few other
bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, and infectious diseases can contribute to the
development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- Symptoms of
- Progressive or more serious symptoms may include
- respiratory distress,
- use of accessory respiratory muscles,
- chronic wheezing,
- abnormal lung sounds,
- prolonged expiration,
- elevated jugular venous pulse, and
- The stages of
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease range from stage I to stage IV. As the stage number increases the disease
progressively becomes worse; stage IV is also known as "end stage"
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- Depending upon
the stage of COPD, other doctors besides the patient's primary care physician
may be involved and may include pulmonologists, lung surgeons, and/or other
professionals such as pulmonary rehabilitation specialists and other team
should contact their doctors about COPD if they experience any of the signs or
symptoms of COPD.
- The diagnosis of this health condition is
by taking the patient's breathing history and exposure to
cigarette smoking or
other agents. A pulmonologist usually determines the stage of COPD
by their FEV1 level.
- The treatment
for this condition includes avoidance of any of the likely causes such as cigarette smoke
or toxic fumes and by medications or, in a small number of patients, lung
surgery or lung transplant.
- Individuals with this health condition should contact their health-care professional before treating themselves with home remedies (for
antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids).
- Medical treatments for COPD include medications
to stop smoking, various bronchodilators, anticholinergics, steroids, and enzyme
- Other therapies for this health condition may include
antibiotics, mucolytic agents, oxygen, endurance exercises, and yoga.
- Surgery for COPD may include bullectomy,
lung volume reduction or lung transplant.
- Prevention or
lowering the risk factors for COPD
includes avoidance of causes (smoking, for example) or vaccines that protect the
lungs from infection (for example, the flu and pneumococcal vaccines).
- The prognosis and life expectancy for
individuals with COPD ranges from good to poor, depending on the person's COPD
stage, with a decreasing outlook as the stages progress toward stage IV.
What is the definition of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a slowly progressive obstruction of airflow into or out of the lungs. The incidence of COPD has almost doubled since 1982. Experts have estimated about 32 million persons in the United States have COPD. The disease occurs slightly more often in men than in women. The symptoms (for example, shortness of breath, coughing) come on slowly and many people are consequently diagnosed after age 40-50, although some are diagnosed at a younger age. COPD patients may exhibit symptoms of chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma.
The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) defines COPD as airflow limitation that is not fully reversible, usually is progressive, and is associated with an abnormal inflammatory response of the lungs to inhaled noxious particles or gases. This
information will focus on COPD and not on other related problems (for example,
chronic bronchitis or asthma).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/4/2015