Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease history and symptoms
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History and Symptoms
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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a group of diseases that can present with symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing, persistent cough and sputum production. Some clinical differences can help distinguish between the types of COPD. While chronic bronchitis patient present with productive cough with gradual progression to intermittent shortness of breath; recurrent pulmonary infections; and in later stage progressive cardiac/respiratory failure presenting with edema and weight gain. Classic findings for patients with emphysema include a long history of progressive shortness of breath with late onset of nonproductive cough; usually mucopurulent; and eventual decrease in appetite and respiratory failure.
The patient may present with a chronic history (lasting for years) of progressive shortness of breath (emphysema) or productive cough (chronic bronchitis). History may involve patient doing life style modifications to deal with the shortness of breath. History of being chronic smoker (usually more than 40 pack year) is also commonly found.
- COPD is the umbrella term for chronic bronchitis, emphysema and a range of other lung disorders. This leads to a limitation of the flow of air to and from the lungs, causing shortness of breath (dyspnea). In clinical practice, COPD is defined by its characteristically low airflow on lung function tests. In contrast to asthma, this limitation is poorly reversible and usually gets progressively worse over time.
- Advanced COPD can lead to complications beyond the lungs, such as weight loss (cachexia), pulmonary hypertension and right-sided heart failure (cor pulmonale). Osteoporosis, heart disease, muscle wasting and depression are all more common in people with COPD.
Acute Exacerbations of COPD
An acute exacerbation of COPD is a sudden worsening of COPD symptoms (shortness of breath, quantity and color of phlegm) that typically lasts for several days. It may be triggered by an infection with bacteria or viruses or by environmental pollutants. Typically, infections cause 75% or more of the exacerbations; bacteria can be found in roughly 25% of cases, viruses in another 25%, and both viruses and bacteria in another 25%. Pulmonary emboli can also cause exacerbations of COPD. Airway inflammation is increased during the exacerbation, resulting in increased hyperinflation, reduced expiratory air flow and worsening of gas transfer. This can also lead to hypoventilation and eventually hypoxia, insufficient tissue perfusion, and then cell necrosis.
- Productive cough with gradual progression to intermittent shortness of breath.  It is possible the sputum may contain blood (hemoptysis), usually due to damage of the blood vessels of the airways. An acute exacerbation may present as productive cough or an acute chest illness. The cough usually is worse in the mornings and produces a small amount of colorless sputum. The frequency and severity of acute exacerbation usually increases as the disease progresses.
- In later stages progressive cardiac/respiratory failure may present with edema and weight gain.
- Most patients seek medical attention late in the course of their disease as the disease is gradual in onset and progressive.
- A long history of progressive shortness of breath with late onset of nonproductive cough; usually mucopurulent; and eventual decrease in appetite and respiratory failure.
- The cough usually is worse in the morning.
- Breathlessness, the most significant symptom, does not occur until the sixth decade of life.
- Wheezing may occur in some patients during exertion.
AAT Deficient Patients
- Present earlier than other COPD patients.
- Mainly affects the lungs and the liver.
- Liver abnormalities can be seen in the first decade of life.
- Patients who are homozygous (PIZZ) have following feature:
- Early presentation (< 50 yrs)
- Commonly involve the lung bases
- Panacinar emphysema.
- In extreme cases it could lead to cor pulmonale due the extra work required by the heart to get blood to flow through the lungs which may present as
- Cyanosis (bluish decolorization usually in the lips and fingers) caused by a lack of oxygen in the blood
- Patient may have confusion indicating an alteration of mental status.
- Depression may be seen
- Decreased fat-free mass, impaired systemic muscle function (systemic manifestation)
Symptoms for Admission to Emergency Department
- Labored breathing (respiratory muscle fatigue)
- Worsening respiratory acidosis (pH < 7.30)
The most helpful information in diagnosis of COPD is provided by a combination of the following 3 signs 
- Self-reported smoking history of more than 55 pack-year
- Wheezing on auscultation
- Self-reported wheezing.
- ↑ Template:Cite doi 
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Rabe KF, Hurd S, Anzueto A, Barnes PJ, Buist SA, Calverley P, Fukuchi Y, Jenkins C, Rodriguez-Roisin R, van Weel C, Zielinski J (September 2007). "Global strategy for the diagnosis, management, and prevention of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: GOLD executive summary". American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 176 (6): 532–55. doi:10.1164/rccm.200703-456SO. PMID 17507545. Retrieved on 2012-03-02.
- ↑ U.S. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute - Signs and Symptoms
- ↑ Qaseem A, Wilt TJ, Weinberger SE, Hanania NA, Criner G, van der Molen T, Marciniuk DD, Denberg T, Schünemann H, Wedzicha W, MacDonald R, Shekelle P (August 2011). "Diagnosis and management of stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a clinical practice guideline update from the American College of Physicians, American College of Chest Physicians, American Thoracic Society, and European Respiratory Society". Annals of Internal Medicine 155 (3): 179–91. doi:10.1059/0003-4819-155-3-201108020-00008. PMID 21810710. Retrieved on 2012-03-02.
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