COPD is an acronym for chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. It is a group of obstructive disease of the lung diseases that affect our respiratory system which differs from the restrictive diseases of the lungs. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the two types which are included in the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Definition of COPD
COPD is defined according to the World Health Organization as a group of lung diseases characterized by obstruction of the lungs airflow chronically. This chronic obstruction interferes with normal breathing and the disease is not fully reversible. If not diagnosed in time, COPD can prove to be a life-threatening lung condition.
Causes of COPD
Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases are caused by several factors. But smoking is the most common cause of chronic bronchitis. People who are into the habit of smoking in any form are at a higher risk of developing the disease than non-smokers.
Some non-smokers with congenital deficiency of alpha one antitrypsin in their bodies suffer from the COPD disease called emphysema.
Other causes of COPD are exposure to fumes and gases, second-hand smoke in the form of pollution and passive smoking, dust, fumes, etc.
Symptoms and diagnosis of COPD
Signs and symptoms of COPD are very distinctive. It is said that if the COPD is underdiagnosed, they can prove to be fatal for life. There is a term called “smoker’s cough”. Smoker’s cough is specific to chronic bronchitis.
Pink puffers and blue bloaters are the terms used for the patients of emphysema and chronic bronchitis respectively. The symptoms begin with cough and mild shortness of breath. This shortness of breath then progresses and sometimes happens with the exertion as well.
Cough is the most prominent feature of COPD. The cough is always productive, and copious amount of mucus is produced. To label a patient with COPD it is a must that the patient suffers from this cough for three consecutive months. These episodes must happen within two years. Coughing is sometimes so severe that it results in rib fractures or the patient loses consciousness for a while due to prolonged interruption in oxygen supply.
Rest of the diagnosis is made by clinical examination. On chest auscultation, a wheeze is present which doesn’t clear after coughing. With the passage of time extreme coughing results in a barrel-shaped chest which can be seen clinically.
Advanced stages of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases result in cor pulmonale and the heart function is also compromised. As a result of cor pulmonale, swollen legs, bulging neck veins and depression results as a result.
COPD symptom tracker
COPD symptom tracker is a Performa that is used for establishing the diagnosis of the disease. Since we cannot label every coughing patient as having COPD, we need to track the symptoms of the patient to firmly establish the diagnosis.
Patient’s name, sex, age, occupation is the most important part of the form. Smoking history of the patient is asked because COPD is a really strong association with smoking. The main symptoms are then added in the columns and their frequency is noted down over the period of weeks and months.