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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


Alternative Names:

COPD; Chronic obstructive airways disease; Chronic obstructive lung disease; Chronic bronchitis; Emphysema; Bronchitis - chronic

Symptoms:
  • Cough, with or without mucus
  • Fatigue
  • Many respiratory infections
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea) that gets worse with mild activity
  • Trouble catching one's breath
  • Wheezing

Because the symptoms of COPD develop slowly, some people may not know that they are sick.

Support Groups:

People often can help ease the stress of illness by joining a support group in which members share common experiences and problems.

See also: Lung disease - support group

Expectations (prognosis):

COPD is a long-term (chronic) illness. The disease will get worse more quickly if you do not stop smoking.

Patients with severe COPD will be short of breath with most activities and will be admitted to the hospital more often. These patients should talk with their doctor about breathing machines and end-of-life care.

Complications:
Calling your health care provider:

Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if you have a rapid increase in shortness of breath.

Prevention:

Not smoking prevents most COPD. Ask your doctor or health care provider about quit-smoking programs. Medicines are also available to help kick the smoking habit. The medicines are most effective if you are motivated to quit.

References:

Hoogendoorn M, Feenstra TL, Hoogenveen RT, Rutten-van Mölken MP. Long-term effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of smoking cessation interventions in patients with COPD. Thorax. 2010;65(8):711-718.

Agarwal R, Aggarwal AN, Gupta D, Jindal SK. Inhaled corticosteroids vs placebo for preventing COPD exacerbations: a systematic review and metaregression of randomized controlled trials. Chest. 2010; 137(2):318-325.

Shapiro SD, Reilly JJ Jr., Rennard SI. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema. In: Mason RJ, Broaddus VC, Martin TR, et al. Murray & Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 39.


Review Date: 5/1/2011
Reviewed By: Denis Hadjiliadis MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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