Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)Page 10 of 11

8. Summary

COPD is a chronic and incurable respiratory condition that has three categories: asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. Risk factors include smoking and exposure to environmental allergens and pollutants that trigger the lungs and alveoli to become inflamed and produce mucus, resulting in narrowed airways. COPD is a condition of restricted air flow and causes complications throughout the body related to chronic hypoxia.

Diagnosis is based on a history of exposures to allergens (mainly cigarette smoking), symptoms, and a physical examination. Clinical symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, and dyspnea. Diagnostic tests include spirometry as the GOLD standard and may include radiography to visualize the size of the lungs.

Treatment includes management of symptoms, medications, lifestyle modifications; in addition, education for pulmonary rehabilitation to avoid acute exacerbations and improve the quality of life. There is no cure but there are many classes of medications to assist with bronchodilation and decrease inflammation of airways and lungs.