Chronic Bronchitis And COPD

What is Chronic Bronchitis And COPD ?

Chronic bronchitis and COPD is very common disorder in Indian population. We see smokers, non-smokers and females, with prolonged complaints of dyspnoea on exertion, walking into our Outpatient department. A simple history and clinical examination can establish the diagnosis easily.

What are the warning signs of a COPD ?

Shortness of breath: A person experiencing a COPD exacerbation may feel breathlessness or shortage of air. If this feeling worsens even when at rest or with little physical activity, you need to see a doctor.

  • Noisy breathing: With a COPD exacerbation, wheezing, whistling, gurgling, or rattling sounds may accompany breathing.
  • Increased anxiety: Oxygen is vital for everyone. If you feel like you are not getting enough oxygen and start to panic, the anxiety can aggravate your breathing ability as you tense up.
  • Chest breathing: During a COPD exacerbation, a person may breathe from the chest instead of the abdomen. Breathing may become more irregular, and chest may move up and down more quickly.
  • Cough: A COPD exacerbation can result in cough, which is more severe or frequent than usual. It could be a dry cough, or may bring up phlegm that is bloody, green or yellow.
  • Changes in skin or nail colour: There may be noticeable changes in colour, such as a bluish tint around the lips. You may also notice blue or purple nails, or the skin may take on a sallow or grey tone.
  • Difficulty sleeping and no interest in eating: The increased symptoms with a COPD exacerbation may interfere with the ability to sleep or eat.
  • Lack of speech: If a person is having severe breathing difficulty, it might impair his ability
  • To speak and tell others what is happening. He might to able to communicate only through hand gestures that he is in distress.
  • Early morning headaches: COPD causes a build-up of carbon dioxide in the blood due to low levels of oxygen. This can result in morning headaches.
  • Swelling in the ankles or legs or abdominal pain: These common COPD symptoms are associated with heart complications or irregularities caused by damage to the lungs.

Why is COPD done?

The goal of COPD treatment is to:

  • Relieve symptoms
  • Prevent complications and worsening of illness
  • Improve health and exercise tolerance

What is included in COPD treatment ?

  • Smoking cessation: Stopping smoking can help slow the decline in lung function.
  • Oxygen therapy: When the lungs cannot function well, inhaled oxygen helps get enough oxygen into the blood to meet the body's needs
  • Nutrition: COPD can make a person lose weight and subsequently lead to loss of muscle mass. An underweight person with COPD will have greater difficulty breathing
  • Bronchodilators: These medications relieve symptoms, and improve airway obstruction and exercise capacity. They work by opening up the air passages and making it easier to breathe.
  • Corticosteroids: These drugs, such as prednisone or budesonide, are used to reduce inflammation and to treat symptoms, especially symptoms of an exacerbation.
  • Vaccines: COPD can flare up and worsen when you get sick, so it's important to get the flu shot and the pneumonia shot.
  • Surgery: When medications prove ineffective, several surgeries, including lung transplantation, can reduce symptoms and hence improve a person's quality of life.
  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics treat bacterial infections and are used primarily during and exacerbation.