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What is COPD?
A set of lung diseases that limit air flow and is
not fully reversible.
COPD patients report they are “hungry” for
Usually progressive and is associated with
inflammation of the lungs as they respond to
noxious particles or gases
Potentially preventable with proper
precautions and avoidance of precipitating
Symptomatic treatment is available
In COPD, less air flows in and out of the airways
because of one or more of the following:
1. The airways and air sacs lose their elastic quality.
2. The walls between many of the air sacs are destroyed.
3. The walls of the airways become thick and inflamed.
4. The airways make more mucus than usual, which tends to
Two Major Causes of COPD
Chronic Bronchitis is characterized by
Chronic inflammation and excess mucus production
Presence of chronic productive cough
Emphysema is characterized by
Damage to the small, sac-like units of the lung that
deliver oxygen into the lung and remove the carbon
Most common cause, however, as many of 1 out of 6 people
with COPD never smoked
Chemicals, dusts, fumes
Secondhand smoke, pollutants
Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency
What can cause COPD?
Smoking is the primary risk factor
Long-term smoking is responsible for 80-90 % of cases
Smoker, compared to non-smoker, is 10 times more likely to die
Prolonged exposures to harmful particles and gases
Chemical gases, vapors, mists & fumes
Dusts from grains, minerals & other materials
Difference between COPD and
In COPD there is permanent damage to the airways.
The narrowed airways are fixed, and so symptoms are
chronic (persistent). Treatment to open up the airways,
is therefore limited.
In asthma there is inflammation in the airways which
makes the muscles in the airways constrict. This
causes the airways to narrow. The symptoms tend to
come and go, and vary in severity from time to time.
Treatment to reduce inflammation and to open up the
airways usually works well.
COPD is more likely than asthma to cause a chronic
(ongoing) cough with sputum.
Night time waking with breathlessness or wheeze is
common in asthma and uncommon in COPD.
COPD is rare before the age of 35 whilst asthma is
common in under-35.
Ways to prevent or slow the
progression of COPD
Stop smoking, if you smoke, to prevent further
damage to your body
Smoking cessation is critical for all severities of COPD
Avoid or protect yourself from exposures to
Other substances such as chemical vapors, fumes, mists,
dusts, and diesel exhaust fumes that irritate your lungs
How is COPD Treated?
COPD can be managed, but not cured
Treatment is different for each individual and is
based on severity of the symptoms
Early diagnosis and treatment can
Slow progress of the disease
Improve an individual’s ability to stay active
Prevent and treat complications
Improve quality of life
When should you see your doctor?
If smoker, see doctor for baseline evaluation of your lungs
When first experiencing shortness of breath or having other lung
When your symptoms get worse
Seek emergency medical treatment if:
Breathing suddenly becomes more difficult
If diagnosed with chronic bronchitis, emphysema or COPD, see
doctor 1-2 times yearly to review your treatment plan