Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Overview of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is a fatal inflammatory disease of the lungs. It causes obstruction in the airflow from the lungs which makes it difficult for the suffering individual to breathe. People who suffer from COPD are more prone to getting heart and lung diseases that can be as severe as cancer.

COPD Meaning in Urdu

یہ بیماری پھیپھڑوں کو متاثر کرتی ہے اور سانس لینے والی نالیوں کو بھی شکار بناتی ہے۔ اس بیماری کی وجہ سے سانس لینے میں مشکلات کا سامنا کرنا پڑتا ہے۔ اس کے علاوہ کچھ لوگ اس بیماری کی وجہ سے موت کا بھی شکار ہو جاتے ہیں کیوں کہ اس بیماری میں مبتلا افراد کچھ دیر کے لیے سانس لینے سے قاصر ہو جاتے ہیں۔ اس کے ساتھ ساتھ اس بیماری کی وجہ سے تھکاوٹ کا بھی سامنا کرنا پڑ سکتا ہے، جب کہ سانس لینے کے عمل کے دوران سیٹی کی آواز بھی آتی ہے۔

Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

The major symptoms of COPD do not appear until serious lung damage has occurred. Smoking adds a lot in worsening the symptoms as they start to show after exposure continues.

The major signs and symptoms of COPD are:

  • Wheezing
  • Recurring respiratory infections
  • Swelling in the feet and legs
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Shortness of breath while performing daily tasks
  • Chronic cough with mucus that is clear, yellow, or greenish

Types of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

There are two main types of COPD observed:

Chronic Bronchitis

In Chronic Bronchitis, the bronchial tubes tighten and become inflamed as a result, the production of mucus is increased by the lungs. This further adds to the blockage of the airways. In order to clear the airways, a chronic cough is developed.


A huge air sack is formed during Emphysema due to the destruction of the walls of the alveoli (air sacks). The airflow of the lungs is disturbed when air is trapped inside and cannot be exhaled. This then causes shortness of breath.

Causes of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

In developed areas of the world, the major cause of COPD is smoking, however in underdeveloped parts of the world COPD is caused by the fumes of burnt fuel, poor ventilation while cooking and smoke from factories. However, the two major causes of COPD that obstruct the airways are:

  • Smoking
  • Air pollution

Risk Factors of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Risk factors of COPD include:


A very rare genetic disorder called alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency is one of the major risk factors for COPD.

Exposure to Chemicals and Dust

Exposure to chemicals and dust for a longer period of time can irritate the lungs and cause inflammation that increases the risk of COPD.

Individuals with Asthma

Asthma and all the other inflammatory conditions of the lungs can be a huge risk factor in causing COPD. Smoking when done while being an asthma patient can increase the risk of COPD.

Tobacco Smoke

Long-term cigarette smoking is one of the major risk factors for COPD. The more packs one smokes, the greater is the risk of developing COPD.



COPD occurs because of a clear cause and can be prevented and its progression can be controlled. The majority of COPD cases are linked to smoking, so the easiest way to prevent COPD is by quitting smoking. If there are early signs of COPD felt by an individual, it is important that they prevent several diseases from affecting them by:

  • Getting an annual flu shot along with the regular vaccination for pneumococcal pneumonia
  • Communicate with your doctor if you feel symptoms of depression
  • Quit smoking and other substances


COPD is mostly diagnosed when the disease reaches its advanced stage. There is a physical test performed to diagnose COPD by the doctors and there are also some tests recommended that can diagnose COPD.

Physical Examination

During a physical examination, the doctor takes proper family history, reviews all the signs and symptoms, and discusses your exposure to irritants if you have had any.


There are several tests asked to be taken by the doctor in order to diagnose COPD and study the symptoms and signs even better. These tests include:

Chest X-Ray

A chest X-ray can easily indicate emphysema which is a type of COPD.

Pulmonary Function Test

The pulmonary Function Test measures the delivery of oxygen to the blood by measuring the amount of air inhaled and exhaled. A spirometer is used during this test. It is a tube connected to a machine, you need to blow in the tube to check how much air the lungs can hold and can blow out of the lungs.

CT Scan

CT Scan of the lungs helps in detecting emphysema and can determine the health condition of the patient as to if they are fit for COPD surgery or not.

Arterial Blood Gas Analysis

This test is performed to measure the function of the lungs in measuring how well the lungs bring in oxygen and remove carbon dioxide.

Treatment of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) | When to Consult a Doctor

A lot of people are seen suffering from mild symptoms of COPD and in that case, simple cessation of smoking helps a lot. But for those with severe symptoms, effective therapies are available that can reduce the progression of COPD and can help improve their lifestyle and health.

Quitting Smoking

The first and the most essential step when it comes to the treatment of COPD is quitting smoking. Quitting smoking can improve breathing immensely. The doctor can recommend nicotine replacement medications that can help in place of cigarettes.

Oral Steroids

Individuals who experience intense and severe episodes of COPD can take short courses of oral steroids for moderate to severe exacerbation. However, doctors prohibit the use for longer periods of time as they come with side effects like diabetes, weight gain, cataracts, and an increased risk of infections.


Several kinds of medication can be used to treat the complications and symptoms of COPD.


The most common ones used are known as Bronchodilators. These are usually in the form of inhalers. These make breathing easier by opening the airways of the lungs.

Inhaled Steroids

These are used to reduce the inflammation of the airways and help in reducing exacerbation caused by COPD.

Lung Therapies

Doctors recommend lung therapies to people with moderate to severe symptoms of COPD. These include:

Oxygen Therapy

If there is not enough oxygen in the blood present, supplemental oxygen is used to make up for it. There are several machines and portable devices that are used for delivering oxygen to the lungs.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program

Pulmonary Rehabilitation Programs include nutrition advice, training and education combined. A number of specialists can manage the rehabilitation program well.


People with severe forms of emphysema are suggested to get treated with surgery when they don’t get effective treatment through medication. The surgery options include:

Volume Reduction Surgery

Parts of the damaged lungs (lung tissues) are removed through surgery from the upper parts of the lungs. This makes extra volume in the lungs or the individual to breathe more easily. The diaphragm then works more efficiently and the lungs start to expand properly.


A lung transplant is conducted in cases of lung failure. It is undertaken under some specific criteria. It improves the quality of life by making it easy for the individual to breathe.


Large air spaces are observed forming in the lungs when the walls of the air sacs are destroyed. This can cause serious breathing issues. During a bullectomy, large air spaces are removed to help improve airflow.

In case of any concerning signs and symptoms, you need to visit a certified pulmonologist