Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPED)

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a progressive and debilitating lung disease characterized by chronic inflammation of the airways and obstruction of airflow. The primary components of COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. COPD is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, particularly among individuals with a history of tobacco smoke exposure, although non-smokers can also develop the condition.

Chronic Bronchitis:

  • Definition: Chronic bronchitis is marked by inflammation and irritation of the bronchial tubes (airways) leading to increased production of mucus.
  • Symptoms: Persistent cough with sputum production, shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest discomfort are common symptoms. Cough and mucus production usually occur most days for at least three months in two consecutive years.


  • Definition: Emphysema involves the destruction of the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs, reducing their elasticity and impairing their ability to recoil during exhalation.
  • Symptoms: Emphysema is characterized by shortness of breath, especially during physical activity, and a feeling of tightness in the chest. The damaged air sacs make it difficult for the lungs to expel air efficiently.

Common Features of COPD:

  • Shortness of Breath: Gradual onset of breathlessness, initially during physical exertion and later even at rest.
  • Chronic Cough: Persistent cough, often accompanied by the production of sputum.
  • Wheezing: Whistling or squeaking sounds during breathing.
  • Chest Tightness: A sensation of pressure or discomfort in the chest.


  • Tobacco Smoke: The primary risk factor for COPD is long-term exposure to cigarette smoke. Pipe, cigar, and secondhand smoke exposure are also significant contributors.
  • Environmental Factors: Prolonged exposure to occupational dust, chemicals, and indoor/outdoor air pollution can contribute to the development and progression of COPD.

Diagnosis and Management:

  • Diagnosis: Diagnosis involves a comprehensive assessment, including medical history, physical examination, lung function tests (spirometry), and sometimes imaging studies.
  • Management: While there is no cure for COPD, the focus of management is on alleviating symptoms, slowing disease progression, and improving quality of life. Treatment may include bronchodilators, inhaled corticosteroids, pulmonary rehabilitation, and supplemental oxygen in advanced cases.


  • Smoking Cessation: The most effective strategy for preventing COPD is the cessation of tobacco smoking.
  • Avoidance of Respiratory Irritants: Minimizing exposure to environmental pollutants and occupational hazards can also reduce the risk of developing COPD.

COPD is a chronic condition that requires ongoing medical attention and management. Early diagnosis and intervention, along with lifestyle modifications, can help individuals with COPD lead more active and fulfilling lives. If you suspect you may have COPD or are experiencing respiratory symptoms, it is essential to seek medical evaluation for proper diagnosis and management.