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What is COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)?

COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a progressively degenerative lung disease. It causes the lungs to become ineffective and bring in the oxygen into the bloodstream and expelling carbon dioxide from the body. Both of these functions are vital for healthy living.

With COPD, the alveoli walls lose their elasticity, causing them to stay partially inflated making it difficult for the patient to breathe. COPD is also often called the "silent killer" because the symptoms become more severe over time. Worldwide, 3 million deaths annually are attributed to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

According to one research, there are more than 13 million people who are affected by COPD and more than 24 million are unaware that they have COPD and are yet to be diagnosed. Hence, it is important to be aware of the symptoms so that on-time treatment is considered. 

COPD Symptoms

The COPD symptoms can be mild in the beginning which are usually mistaken as cold. Symptoms of this disease can get worse with time and become difficult to overlook. Since the lungs are more damaged. The most common symptoms are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Recurrent mild cough
  • An urge to clear the throat frequently
  • Wheezing, a noisy-breathing
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Severe cough
  • Clear mucus
  • Frequent respiratory infections, flu, colds, etc.
  • Low energy

COPD causes

COPD grows slowly over time which often results from a combination of risk factors. There are varied COPD causes:

  • Exposure to tobacco from active or passive smoking.
  • Indoor air pollution which includes biomass fuel or coal is often used for heating and cooking with highest smoke levels.
  • Asthma in childhood
  • Alpha-1 deficiency, a rare genetic condition causing COPD at an early age.
  • Occupational exposure to chemicals, dust, and fumes.
  • Early life events like premature, respiratory infections in childhood preventing maximum lung growth, etc.

COPD complications

If COPD is left untreated, then it leads to serious health issues such as:

  • Heart issues like heart failure or heart attack
  • Respiratory infections such as colds, flu, or pneumonia
  • Lung cancer
  • High blood pressure in lung arteries
  • Depression

COPD Diagnosis and tests

The doctor begins the COPD diagnosis by evaluating the symptoms, clinical history, and habits of the patient such as alcohol, smoking, etc. After gaining the information, the healthcare professional will initiate physical assessment and breathing tests. Spirometry is the most common test conducted for COPD diagnosis. It is a large and flexible tube that is linked to a machine known as a spirometer. It assists the doctor to measure how much air the lungs can hold. There are other tests that help in ruling out other health issues like heart failure, or asthma.

These tests are:

  • Tests related to the lung so that issues are identified.
  • Chest x-rays as it helps in finding out the problems like emphysema, lung issues, and heart failure.
  • CT scan is ordered to get a detailed picture of the lungs and understand if there is a need for surgery or if a person is suffering from lung cancer.
  • Arterial blood gas test is to measure whether the lungs are able to bring the oxygen in lungs effectively or not.
  • Laboratory tests are ordered for determining the symptoms and ruling out other conditions such as genetic disorder alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AAT).

COPD treatment options

No cure is available for COPD treatment, however, the only objective is easing the symptoms and slowing down the disease. The doctor ensures offering the best treatment by preventing or treating the complications and improving the overall life quality for the patient.

One of the best treatments doctor advise is to stop smoking to prevent COPD. It is also advisable to consult the doctor to try out different things.

Medical treatment

The medical treatment options are:

  • Bronchodilators are a medicine that helps in opening your airways.
  • Corticosteroids reduce airway inflammation.
  • Combination inhalers are recommended as it assists in fighting against bacterial infections.
  • Roflumilast is a drug that prevents an enzyme called PDE 24. It also helps in preventing flare-ups among individuals whose COPD is associated with chronic bronchitis.
  • Flu or pneumonia vaccinations ensure reducing respiratory infections or illnesses like Covid-19.
  • A pulmonary rehabilitation program is suggested as it involves disease management, physical activities and counseling.
  • Oxygen therapy is given to reduce the problem of shortness of breath, improve the quality of life, and protect organs.


Surgery is recommended in most serious cases which involves bullectomy, lung volume reduction surgery, and lung transplant.

Why should you choose Rukmani Birla Hospital for COPD treatment?

Rukmani Birla Hospital, Jaipur is a multi-speciality hospital offering wide-ranging clinical care to all patients. We have a team of multidisciplinary specialists and some of the finest surgeons in India providing complete care with medical brilliance. RBH incorporates outpatient services such as cardiology, neurosciences, gastro-science, renal science, orthopaedics & joint replacement and several more.

We are armed with up-to-date infrastructure and state-of-the-art technology to ensure a high success rate for diverse surgical measures. Consult us to book an appointment with our leading pulmonologists for durable health benefits.


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