A Short Guide to COPD – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

COPD – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is an assembly of conditions that result in damage to human lungs and airways. COPD can include chronic bronchitis and emphysema. A patient having #COPD may show symptoms like troubled breathing, wheezing, cough, tightness in chest, etc. COPD is usually caused by smoking or too much inhalation of toxins from the environment.

Let us get to know about COPD in detail:

Symptoms

COPD symptoms generally don’t appear till the lung is significantly damaged. They worsen over time, especially if the exposure to toxins continues. For chronic bronchitis, daily cough and mucus are common symptoms, for at least first three months.

Over the period patient may show the following COPD symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Excess mucus in lungs which force the patient to clear his/her throat just after waking up in the morning
  • Mucus colour may vary from clear, white, yellow to greenish
  • Lips or fingernail beds turn blue
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Loss in energy
  • Weight loss
  • Swelling in ankles, legs or feet

Causes

The primary cause of COPD is tobacco smoking; the second leading cause is exposure to fumes ( like from burning fuel for cooking) and heating in poorly ventilated homes.

Only one third chronic smokers develop clinically apparent COPD. However, many smokers having a long smoking history develop reduced lung function.

Common COPD drug

There is no permanent cure for COPD as the lungs and airways are perpetually damaged. However, many drugs help reducing inflammation and open the lung airways to comfort the patients breathe easier.

Let us get to know about some of these #medications:

Bronchodilators

Bronchodilators help in opening airways to make breathing easier. Doctors may prescribe short acting bronchodilators for an emergency situation or quick relief. They can be taken through inhalers or nebulisers.

Short acting bronchodilators include

  • Albuterol (Vospire ER)
  • Ipratropium (Atrovent)
  • Levalbuterol (Xopenex)
  • Albuterol (Combivent)

Roflumilast

Roflumilast (Daliresp 500mcg) is a version of a drug named phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitor. Roflumilast comes in a pill which patients are prescribed one a day. It helps relieve inflammation which improves air flow to lungs. The doctors usually prescribe this medication along with a long-acting bronchodilator.

Corticosteroids

COPD causes inflammation in airways which make the patients harder to breathe. Corticosteroids make air flow easier in lungs by reducing the inflammation.

There are many types of corticosteroids available in the market. Some can be inhaled and used as directed by a doctor. Others can be either taken orally or injected into the body (when COPD gets worse).

Methylxanthines

Patients suffering from severe COPD require first-line treatments.  They are given fast-acting bronchodilators and corticosteroids which don’t help the patient on their own. If this happens, some doctors prescribe a drug named theophylline with a bronchodilator. Theophylline works as an anti-inflammatory drug and relaxes the airways muscles. #Theophylline comes as a pill or liquid which can be consumed daily.

The medication and treatment of COPD vary. Drugs prescribed to combat COPD primarily depend on the condition of the patients.