Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

by HCC

Source WHO Fact Sheet

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung ailment that is characterized by a persistent blockage of airflow from the lungs. It is an under-diagnosed, life-threatening lung disease that interferes with normal breathing and is not fully reversible. The more familiar terms of chronic bronchitis and emphysema are no longer used; they are now included within the COPD diagnosis.


The most common symptoms of COPD are breathlessness (or a “need for air”), abnormal sputum (a mix of saliva and mucus in the airway), and a chronic cough. Daily activities, such as walking up a short flight of stairs or carrying a suitcase, can become very difficult as the condition gradually worsens.

Diagnosis and treatment

COPD is confirmed by a diagnostic test called “spirometry” that measures how much air a person can inhale and exhale, and how fast air can move into and out of the lungs. Because COPD develops slowly, it is frequently diagnosed in people aged 40 or older.

COPD is not curable. It is essential to stop smoking to prevent the progression of COPD. Various forms of treatment can help control its symptoms and increase buy tramadol next day delivery quality of life for people with the illness. For example, medicines that help dilate major air passages of the lungs can improve shortness of breath.

The availability of treatment options for COPD differ across varying resource settings. WHO has released a guideline 1 with specific recommendations for COPD management in primary health care in resource-constrained settings.

Who is at risk?

At one time, COPD was more common in men, but because of increased tobacco use among women in high-income countries, and the higher risk of exposure to indoor air pollution (such as solid fuel used for cooking and heating) in low-income countries, the disease now affects men and women almost equally.

More than 90% of COPD deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, where effective strategies for prevention and control are not always implemented or accessible.

Risk factors

COPD is preventable. The primary cause of COPD is tobacco smoke (including second-hand or passive exposure). Other risk factors include:

  • indoor air pollution (such as solid fuel used for cooking and heating);
  • outdoor air pollution;
  • occupational dusts and chemicals (vapours, irritants and fumes);
  • frequent lower respiratory infections during childhood.

Source WHO Fact Sheet