Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a group of diseases that includes emphysema (damage to the lung tissue) and chronic bronchitis (inflammation of the breathing tubes).
An inflammation of the airways
People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease have inflammation of the airways , bronchi, and lung tissue (chronic bronchitis). This inflammation leads to a narrowing of the airways, preventing air from passing through easily. Depending on the stage of the disease, the pulmonary alveoli (small air sacs in the lungs) deteriorate and are eventually destroyed: this is called pulmonary emphysema (or emphysema).
Today, COPD affects nearly 3 million Canadians
1 in 7 Canadians aged 45 to 49 may have COPD
As the disease progresses over time, it can lead to symptoms such as:
- Feeling out of breath
- Frequent coughing
- Saliva and mucus production (sputum)
- Chest infections
As symptoms persist or get worse, people with COPD may be at risk of an event called an exacerbation which is a severe flare up of symptoms which may result in a hospitalization.
If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of COPD, take this short pre-screening quiz to see if you should talk to your doctor about getting tested.
COPD Risk Factors
Lifestyle and genetic factors may increase the risk of COPD or contribute to its worsening. These include:
- Exposure to tobacco smoke
- Long-term exposure to harmful dust, fumes, chemicals and secondhand smoke
- Genetics and frequent lower respiratory tract infections during childhood
- An unhealthy lifestyle and poor nutrition
- Air pollution is considered an aggravating factor, which increases the risk of an exacerbation
- COPD can lead to decreased physical activity and reduced exercise tolerance further aggravating the disease
Take This COPD Pre-Screening Quiz to Find Out if You Are at Risk
Take this short quiz to find out if you may be at risk or experiencing signs of COPD. This pre-screening quiz is for information purposes only and should not replace a complete medical examination by a doctor. If you think you may have COPD or are worried about your health, please see your healthcare practitioner.
How is COPD Diagnosed?
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is most commonly diagnosed with a test called spirometry. Spirometry measures lung function, specifically how quickly air can be inhaled and exhaled. This test is able to detect COPD before symptoms may appear and may also be used to monitor your condition to see if you to qualify for provincial funding.
COPD Treatment and Management
The treatment and management of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease consists of reducing symptoms and slowing the progression of the disease. As part of your treatment plan, your doctor may prescribe home oxygen therapy in addition to respiratory rehabilitation, inhalers and humidification therapy.
- Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease. Global Strategy for the diagnosis management and prevention of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Mis à jour in 2017; disponible sur http://goldcopd.org/gold-2017-global-strategy-diagnosis-management-prev …
- ERS. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in: European lung white book. Available on http://www.erswhitebook.org/chapters/chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-dise …
- www.who.int/mediacentre /factsheets/fs310/en/
- OMS. Bronchopneumopathie chronic obstructive (BPCO). Aide mémoire N°315, 6. October 2014. Available on www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs315/fr/; see 11/05/2014
- Canadian Lung Association (2005). Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): A national report card. Retrieved from http://www.lung.ca/_resources/2005.copd_reportcard.pdf2Canadian Lung Association (2011).
- Out of breath: Many Canadians avoid everyday activities because of COPD [Press Release]. Retrieved from http://www.lung.ca/media-medias/news-nouvelles_e.php?id=2133
- Canadian Thoracic Society (2010). The human and economic burden of COPD: A leading cause of hospital admission in Canada. Retrieved from http://www.lung.ca/media-medias/news-nouvelles_e.php?id=2134
- Canadian Lung Association (2007). New Lung Association research: Millions more may have COPD than previously estimated [Press Release]. Retrieved from http://www.lung.ca/media-medias/news-nouvelles_e.php?id=98