Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is not curable at any stage of the disease. With early diagnosis and treatment, disease progression and flare-ups can be controlled. Hence, patients can live a good quality of life and even exercise, without their longevity being considerably affected. Patients would have to quit smoking and avoid exposure to other risk factors. If untreated, patients enter the end-stage/stage IV of the disease. Hence, patients would eventually have a very poor quality of life and fatal complications, affecting their longevity.
How can people with COPD get better?
The three major goals of the comprehensive treatment and management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are to lessen airflow limitation, prevent and treat secondary medical complications such as hypoxemia infection, decrease respiratory symptoms and improve quality of life.
- Short-term and long-term bronchodilators (inhalers)
- Oral steroids or steroid inhalers to suppress inflammation
- Medication to clear thin mucus and clear the airway
- Antibiotics to treat infections of the lungs
- Quitting smoking and avoiding exposure to other irritants
- Pulmonary rehabilitation
- Oxygen therapy
- Surgery in severe cases (Stage IV of COPD), including lung transplant, may be required
What is COPD?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of diseases causing an inflammatory reaction and irreversible damage to the lungs. They obstruct airflow and lead to difficulty breathing. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the most common diseases that make up COPD. It’s a lifelong disease with periods of flare-ups. It negatively impacts the quality of life and longevity.
Understanding COPD Types
During inhalation, air travels through the nose and/or mouth into the trachea (windpipe). The trachea further divides into two tubes called bronchi, which open into the lungs. Within the lungs, the bronchi branch out into smaller tubes called bronchioles. The end of bronchioles opens into little air sacs called alveoli, which aid in gaseous exchange. The alveoli are surrounded by blood vessels, through which the exchange of gases, oxygen, and carbon dioxide takes place.
Exposure to causative factors of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) leads to the infiltration of different types of white blood cells and inflammatory factors. This leads to tissue inflammation, damage, and increased mucus secretion in the airway and alveoli.
Emphysema is a disease of the alveoli (tiny air sacs in the lungs). There is irreversible damage to the alveoli making them less elastic. There is a decreased exchange of gases leading to decreased oxygenation in the body (hypoxia). Eventually, patients have severe breathing difficulties.
Chronic bronchitis is a disease of the bronchus. The trachea can also be involved. Inflammation due to irritants causes inflammation leading to an increase in the number and size of mucus-secreting glands. There is also damage to the cilia, which are small hair-like structures located in various parts of the body to help clear mucus. Hence, there is also a decreased clearance of mucus, which accumulates and thickens, causing airway obstruction. Chronic inflammation also leads to the narrowing of the airway.
What triggers COPD?
Common causes and risk factors for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) include:
- Tobacco smoking (accounts for 90% of COPD risk)
What are the signs and symptoms of COPD?
The signs and symptoms and severity depend on the stage of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and they worsen during flare-ups. There are four stages of COPD and their symptoms:
- Stage I: Mild COPD
- Stage II: Moderate COPD
- Stage III: Severe COPD
- Stage IV: Very severe COPD (end stage)
Signs and symptoms of stage I of COPD:
- Symptoms are mild and often missed, but the damage to the lungs begins.
- Patients may only present with persistent shortness of breath on exertion.
Signs and symptoms of stage II of COPD:
Symptoms are more severe than in stage I, and there is a mild impact on the quality of life. Patients present with
- Persistent cough with mucus, which may be worse in the morning.
- Shortness of breath even with mild routine activity.
- Wheezing on exertion.
- Disturbed sleep.
Signs and symptoms of stage III of COPD:
Stage III has a bigger impact on the quality of life. Symptoms in stage III worsen considerably. In addition to that, patients present with
- Frequent respiratory tract infections.
- Swelling of the ankles, feet, and legs.
- Tightness in the chest.
- Trouble taking a deep breath.
- Wheezing and other breathing issues when doing basic tasks.
Signs and symptoms of end-stage of COPD (stage IV):
This is the final stage of COPD. It occurs after years of continuous damage to the lungs. Patients have worsened symptoms of stage III and frequent flare-ups, which could be fatal. Patients have a very poor quality of life.
The patients also present with
Latest Lungs News
Daily Health News
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top Can People With COPD Get Better? Related Articles
What Is Bronchiectasis?Bronchiectasis has three types: cylindrical bronchiectasis, saccular or varicose bronchiectasis, and cystic bronchiectasis. Causes of bronchiectasis include infection, environmental exposure, drug or alcohol abuse, and alpha-1 antitrypsin (congenital). Symptoms of bronchiectasis include shortness of breath, fatigue, chronic cough, bloody sputum, and wheezing. Treatment for bronchiectasis includes antibiotics and possibly surgery.
Can Someone with COPD Still Have Sex?COPD is a condition that leads to blockage of the airway. COPD may lead to sexual dysfunction, but you can still have sex with COPD.
Can You Have Emphysema Without COPD?Emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) both refer to a group of long-standing lung conditions that can make breathing difficult. What is the difference between emphysema and COPD?
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a lung condition caused by smoking tobacco, exposure to secondhand smoke, and/or air pollutants. Conditions that accompany COPD include chronic bronchitis, chronic cough, and emphysema.
Symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath, wheezing, and chronic cough. Treatment of COPD includes GOLD guidelines, smoking cessation, medications, and surgery. The life expectancy of a person with COPD depends on the stage of the disease.
COPD QuizCOPD is a combination of three conditions? Take this quiz to learn the three conditions that make up the pulmonary disease called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Energy Foods for COPDWhat are COPD foods to avoid that may trigger symptoms? Learn more about the COPD diet. Boost your energy and combat COPD with these diet tips.
COPD Lung SymptomsCOPD is a pulmonary disorder caused by obstructions in the airways of the lungs leading to breathing problems. Learn about COPD symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.
COPD vs. Asthma (Differences and Similarities)COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and asthma both have common symptoms like coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and a tight feeling in the chest. COPD is caused by tobacco smoking, while asthma is caused by your inherited genetic makeup and their interactions with the environment. Risk factors for asthma are obesity, exposure to cigarette smoke (even secondhand smoke), and personal history of hay fever. There is no cure for either disease, but symptoms can be managed with medication. A person with asthma has a better prognosis and life expectancy than someone with COPD.
COPD vs. EmphysemaCOPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is the term doctors and other healthcare professionals use to describe a group of serious, progressive (worsens over time), chronic lung diseases that include emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and sometimes asthma. The number one cause of COPD or emphysema, is smoking, and smoking is the third leading cause of death in the US.
Exercises for COPDThe more you exercise, the better you'll feel with COPD. Breathe easier with these 10 exercises from WebMD.
How to Naturally Improve Indoor Air QualityImproving the air quality at home can help you avoid allergies and asthma flare-ups. Plus, it lets you breathe easily. There are 12 ways to improve indoor air quality.
Is It OK to Drink Alcohol With COPD?Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an inflammatory lung condition that worsens as it progresses. People with COPD who drink alcohol can increase the frequency and severity of COPD symptoms.
What are the Four Stages of COPD?COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is a group of diseases that cause an inflammatory reaction and irreversible damage in the lungs. The result is obstruction of normal airflow and breathing difficulties. COPD is a lifelong condition with periods of flare ups, and is not curable in any stage of the disease. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the most common diseases that make up COPD.
What Is BiPAP Used For?A bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) machine is a noninvasive type of ventilation. It is used to help you breathe easier when you have conditions that make breathing difficult like sleep apnea, COPD, asthma, heart conditions and other ailments.
Which Houseplants Are Good For Health?Researchers found that some ornamental houseplants are able to effectively remove some of the air pollutants like volatile organic compounds (VOCs).