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What is COPD?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a common & preventable lung disease that is characterized by chronic obstruction of lung flow with persistent respiratory symptoms due to alveolar and/or airway abnormalities generally caused by significant long-term exposure to noxious gases or particles.

 

What are the risk factors?

Long-term exposure to things that will causes lung irritation and increase the lungs total burden of inhaled particles & gases like cigarette smoking is the most common cause. You might develop this condition as well if you have been exposed to air pollution, certain chemicals or dusts for a longer period of time. Genetic factor, it’s rare but it could be become one of the risks to develop COPD especially when u short of a protein called α 1 -antitrypsin (AAT) will cause panlobular emphysema. Also, aging will determine the risk of COPD due to raised rate of systemic commodities especially after onset of age 40 years old.

What are the symptoms of COPD?

  • Difficulty in breathing when you are physically active
  • A cough that never goes away
  • Lots of sputum production
  • Chest tightness and wheezing
  • Others – including fatigue, weight loss, anorexia, syncope, ankle swelling, anxiety, depression.

What are the treatments for COPD?

There is no cure for COPD, so what can you do is ease the signs & symptoms experienced & slow down the disease. Main goal of treatment is improving quality of life & prevent complications occur.

If you are a cigarette smoker, please stop it now as it will make the condition worse. Besides that, medications can help to prevent the condition getting worsen.

  • Bronchodilators – considered as first line treatment as it helps to open up the airways. Example is metered dose inhaler salbutamol (Ventolin)
  • Antimuscarinic drug – can decrease mucus secretions & block bronchoconstriction effects. For examples is ipratropium bromide.
  • Anti-inflammatory agents (corticosteroid) – reduce airway inflammation. Its available in pill or inhaler form but inhaler preferred as the effect given faster. Examples are budesonide, beclomethasone & fluticasone.

Lastly, pulmonary rehabilitation is also an option that encouraged to ease the COPD symptoms including exercise, counselling & disease management which can help you to stay physically & mentally healthy and active.

References

  1. Clinical Practice Guidelines (2009). Management of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, 2 nd Ed. Available at http://www.moh.gov.my/penerbitan/CPG2017/4749.pdf
  2. Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) (2018). Global Strategy for the Diagnosis, Management, and Prevention of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Available at https://goldcopd.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/GOLD-2018-v6.0-FINAL-revised-20-Nov_WMS.pdf
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