Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of conditions that cause long term (chronic) breathing difficulty due to lung damage. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are both included in this group.The main cause of COPD is smoking.
Long term smoking often results in narrowing of your airways and scarring of your lungs. Symptoms of COPD can include:
- Chronic cough
- Breathlessness when moving or exercising
- Frequent chest infections
- Swollen ankles
If you experience the symptoms of COPD you should seek medical advice. In the first instance your GP may refer you to a specialist who can access how well you breathe. Using a machine called a spirometer they will determine how quickly your lungs empty and fill with air. Blood tests and a chest x-ray may also be required.
How is COPD treated?
Although there is no cure for COPD, progression of the disease can be slowed if you stop smoking.
Your breathlessness can be controlled by using an inhaler. Additional medication and/or oxygen therapy may also help to ease your symptoms. A special exercise and education programme called pulmonary rehabilitation can help you get mobile and regain confidence in coping with your COPD symptoms. Our experienced consultants diagnose and treat COPD in a hospital near you.
To learn more about COPD visit the British Lung Foundation website.
Related tests and scans
Waiting for blood tests and results can be an anxious time. If you’ve been referred by a GP for a test and don’t want to worry or wait, Nuffield Health can help. Our national network of fully accredited laboratories delivers fast, reliable results at a competitive price – wherever you are in the UK.