Signs And Symptoms Of COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD is consists of bronchitis (inflammation of the bronchial tube lining ) and emphysema (alveoli or air sac damage). COPD is the third leading cause of death among Americans. The 2010 death rates ranged from 47.6 per 100,000 males and 36.4 per 100,000 females (CDC). The rates slightly improved among males, but stayed about the same in females.


COPD is a slow progressing respiratory disease that does not have a cure. It is possible to manage the symptoms with bronchodilators and oxygen. It is prevalent for the individual to commit to smoking cessation immediately, in order to slow the progress of the disease.


COPD is characterized by airflow obstruction, which progressively worsens over time.

  • Air sacs and airways loose elasticity
  • Walls located between the air sacs are damaged
  • Walls of the airways become thickened and inflamed
  • More mucus production is noted, which clogs the airways

The gas exchange process is compromised, due to the destruction of the alveoli. Carbon dioxide will toxicity can occur, if the oxygen saturation is set above 92%.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Dyspnea (difficulty breathing) with mild exercise
  • Productive (phlegmy) Cough
  • Hypoxemia (inability to absorb O2 and to expel CO2
  • Anxiety
  • Angina (chest pain), heaviness, and discomfort
  • Fatigue
  • Nail Clubbing (distal phalanges will become wide and distorted)
  • Barrel Chested
  • Wheezing
  • Accessory Muscles (abdominal, pectorialis, and inter-costal muscles)often used to Breathe
  • Frequent Respiratory Infections
  • Insomnia
  • Poor Appetite
  • Irritability


  • Cigarette Smoking (primary and secondary exposures)
  • Over Exposure to Toxic Chemicals
  • Occupational Exposures
  • Heredity (deficiency in Alpha-1)
  • Air Pollutions
  • Genetic Abnormality (antitrypsin alpha 1)