Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

COPD Symptoms

Many people don’t notice the signs and symptoms of COPD until it’s too late. Because they are “simply getting older,” some people believe they are short of breath or less able to carry out their daily duties. Lung disease can cause shortness of breath, which is a common symptom. It’s necessary to speak with your doctor if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms or believe you could be at risk for COPD.

  • Coughing for a long time
  • Shortness of breath while performing routine tasks (dyspnea)
  • Respiratory infections are common.
  • Lips or fingernail beds that are blue (cyanosis)
  • Fatigue
  • A lot of mucus production (also called phlegm or sputum)
  • Wheezing

Remember: Don’t wait for symptoms to get severe before seeking treatment, as this will waste vital time. COPD must be detected early in order to be treated effectively.


When the lungs and airways become damaged and irritated, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) develops.

It’s frequently linked to long-term inhalation of hazardous substances like cigarette smoke.

This section discusses factors that can raise your chances of developing COPD.


Smoking is the most common cause of COPD, accounting for nearly nine out of ten cases. Toxic substances in smoke can harm the linings of the lungs and airways. Stopping smoking can help to keep COPD from worsening. According to several studies, passive smoking (being exposed to other people’s cigarette smoke) may also raise your risk of COPD.

Fumes and dust at work

Workplace exposure to certain types of dust and chemicals can harm your lungs and raise your risk of COPD.

COPD has been connected to the following substances:

  • Dust and fumes of Cadmium
  • Dust of grain and flour
  • Silica sand
  • Vapors from welding
  • Isocyanates
  • Coal ash

If you smoke and breathe in dust or fumes at work, your chances of developing COPD are even higher.

The Health and Safety Executive has more information on the causes of COPD in the workplace.

Air Pollution

Long-term exposure to air pollution can impair lung function and according to some studies, may also raise your risk of COPD. However, the link between air pollution and COPD is currently inconclusive, and study is ongoing.


If you smoke and have a close relative with COPD, you’re more likely to develop it, suggesting that some people’s genes make them more susceptible to the disease. Around one in every 100 patients with COPD has a genetic predisposition to the disease, known as alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency. The chemical alpha-1-antitrypsin protects your lungs. The lungs are more sensitive to harm if it isn’t present.

COPD strikes those with an alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency at an earlier age, especially if they smoke.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has no cure at the moment, but medication can help slow the disease’s progression and regulate symptoms.

The following are some of the treatments:

  • The most important thing you can do if you have COPD and smoke is to stop smoking.
  • Breathing aids such as inhalers and pills are available to make breathing easier.
  • People with COPD can benefit from pulmonary rehabilitation, which is a specialized exercise and education programme.
  • Lung transplantation or surgery – but this is only a possibility for a tiny proportion of patients.
  • With you, a doctor will go over the various treatment possibilities.

Quit Smoking

Stopping smoking is the most effective method to prevent COPD from worsening. Although the damage to your lungs and airways is irreversible, quitting smoking can help you avoid future harm.

This may be all that’s required in the early stages of COPD, but it’s never too late to quit — even those with advanced COPD can benefit by quitting. You might also wish to consult a doctor about the various smoking cessation options available to you.


If your COPD is making it difficult to breathe, you’ll most likely be prescribed an inhaler. This is a device that allows you to breathe medicine directly into your lungs. A doctor or nurse will instruct you on how to properly use an inhaler and how often to use it.

COPD inhalers are available in a wide range of designs and sizes. The most prevalent types are as follows:

  • Short-acting bronchodilator inhalers
  • Long-acting bronchodilator inhalers
  • Steroid inhalers


If inhalers aren’t enough to control your symptoms, a doctor may prescribe pills or capsules.

  • Theophylline tablets
  • Mucolytics
  • Steroid tablets
  • Antibiotics

Pulmonary rehabilitation

Pulmonary rehabilitation is a specialised exercise and education programme for persons with lung conditions like COPD. It can help you improve your symptoms, self-confidence, and emotional well-being, as well as how much exercise you can accomplish before you go out of breath.

Pulmonary rehabilitation programmes normally last at least 6 weeks and include two or more group sessions per week.

A typical programme might include the following:

  • Walking, cycling, and strength exercises are examples of physical fitness training adapted to your needs and abilities.
  • For you and your family, education about your illness is essential.
  • Dietary suggestions.
  • Emotional and psychological assistance.

A variety of healthcare professionals, including physiotherapists, nurse specialists and nutritionists, deliver the programmes.

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