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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
COPD is a term used to describe a wide range of airway disorders. Chronic
bronchitis is a syndrome clinically defined as:
- Excessive production of mucus.
- Presence of symptoms, largely
most days for at least 3 months annually during 2 or more successive years.
- Exclusion of bronchiectasis, TB, or other
causes of these symptoms.
This syndrome describes airway disorders that range from simple chronic
bronchitis (smokers cough) to the more severe chronic obstructive bronchitis.
The addition of episodes of airway hyper-reactivity to the above syndrome
establishes the diagnosis of chronic asthmatic bronchitis.
Pulmonary Function Tests:
The FEV(1) / timed VC ratio is decreased as the amount of VC time is increased.
VC, MBC are decreased, TLC and RV increased (this picture occurs in
all obstructive diseases of the lung e.g. asthma (reversible), tumours,
- Stop smoking
- Treatment of heart failure if present
- Bronchodilators such as beta 2 receptor agonists (salbutamol) or anticholinergic
inhalers such as ipratropium bromide.
- A trial of corticosteroids is wise and should be instituted using oral
prednisolone 30mg daily for 2 weeks. Lung function is measured before
and after and an improvement of >15% in airflow limitation indicates the
need for inhaled steroids. If no improvement occurs then steroids are
- Antibiotics are used when the sputum turns yellow or green.
- alpha 1 anditrypsin replacement in patients with levels below 310mg/L.
- Respiratory failure is treated accordingly.
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