Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

If you have difficulty in breathing and a cough that will not go away you may have COPD. In COPD, the airways and air sacs lose their shape and become floppy. Less air gets in and less air goes out because the airways and air sacs lose their elasticity (like an old rubber band).

Who gets COPD?

  • COPD is not an infectious disease. That means it is not caused by germs. You cannot get COPD from anyone else. Also, you cannot give it to anyone else.
  • Adults get COPD, but children do not get it.
  • Most people with COPD are smokers or they used to smoke. Any form of smoking can damage the lungs. Even people who do not smoke can suffer if they keep breathing in smoke because of someone else’s smoking.
  • People can get COPD if they are exposed to fumes from cooking stoves [Chula], or from room heaters [sigri]
  • Those who have been working for many years in places that are very dusty or smoky can get COPD. This can happen to those who work in coal mines, cement, textile and certain other industries.

Any of these may be the reason for your coughing and breathing problems.

  • Many people ignore a cough or mild breathing problem for years.
  • If you have COPD, delaying treatment will make the problem worse because it will not be controlled.
  • People with COPD, are usually older than 40,
  • But you can also get COPD when you are younger 40, especially if you are smoker.
  • So if you have berating problem, do not delay. See your doctor immediately.

Your doctor can tell you how bad the COPD is.

  • You may have to do some simple breathing tests with the help of an instrument called a spirometer.
  • If it is not too bad, it is called mild COPD.
  • If COPD is getting bad, it is called moderate COPD.
  • If COPD is very bad, it is called severe COPD.


  • You may cough a lot. Something you cough out mucus.
  • You feel a little out of breath if you work hard or walk fast.

Moderate COPD

  • You may cough more, and you cough out mucus.
  • You often feel out of breath if you work hard or walk rapidly.
  • You may have trouble doing physical work or housework. You may have to do these things slower than other people.
  • You may take several weeks to recover from cold or chest infection.

Severe COPD

  • You may cough even more, and you cough out a lot of mucus.
  • You have trouble breathing during the day and at night.
  • You may take several weeks to recover from a cold or chest infection.
  • You can no longer go to work or do housework.
  • You cannot climb stairs or even walk across a room very well.
  • You get tired with even the smallest effort, or even when you are resting.

With the right treatment, you will feel better in many ways:

  • You will feel less short of breath.
  • You will cough less.
  • You will sleep better, feel more fit and you will be able to move around better.
  • You will feel more confident, and you will be in a better mood.

What you and your family can do to help control the damage in your lungs.

If you are a smoker, stop smoking. It is the most important thing you can do help your lung.

  • Your condition will get worse faster if you smoke even just two cigarettes a day. Cigarette smoke irritates your lungs and makes the airways get narrower and produce excess mucus. Smoking can also interfere with the ability of your blood to carry oxygen which is vital for your body.
  • Even if you have been smoking for a long time, you can stop smoking.
  • If you feel willpower is not enough, you can ask your doctor for advice. Your doctor may recommend pills to help you stop smoking.
  • Set definite date when you will stop. Tell family and friends in advance that you are trying to stop. Keep cigarettes out of your house. Do not permit smoking inside your home. Remove ashtrays from your home. Stay away from the places and people that make you want to smoke.
  • Keep yourself busy. Keep your hands busy. Whenever you feel like picking up cigarette, pick up a pencil or something else instead.
  • If you feel an urge to smoke, chew some chewing gum. Eat fresh fruit or vegetables. Drink a lot of water every day.
  • If you start smoking again, don’t give up on your goal try to stop again. Some people have to try stopping many time before they stop permanently.

See your doctor regularly take medicine exactly the way the doctor says you should take it.

  • Go for your medical check-ups on the dates your doctor tells you. Go at least two times a year, even if you are feeling OK.
  • Ask the doctor to write down the names of each medicine and how much to take and when to take it.
  • Take the list of your medicines, or the actual medicines, every time you go to your doctor for check-up.
  • Talk about how your medicines make you feel.
  • After the check-up, show your family your list of medicines. Keep the list at home where everyone can find it easily. Medicines that make the airway wider are called bronchodilators. These drugs act by preventing and reversing the tightening of the small muscles around the airways in your lungs. So they relieve your symptoms and help you to breathe more easily.
  • Bronchodilator medicines come in many from such as pills syrups, and inhalers.
  • There are two types of inhalers: the Rotahaler and the spray inhaler. If your doctor tells you to use inhaled medicines, he will prescribe the type of inhaler which is most suitable for you.


  • Insert a rotacap, transparent end first, into the raised square hole of the Rotahaler
  • Rotate the base of the Rotahaler in order to separate the two halves of the Rotacap
  • Breathe in as deeply as you can. Hold your breath for ten seconds. Breathe out slowly.

How to use the spray inhaler

  • Pick up the inhaler and shake it with the cap on. Then take the cap off.
  • Stand up, or sit with your back straight. Breathe out.
  • Hold the mouthpiece of the inhaler firmly between your lips. Start breathing in slowly. At the same time push the canister down once to release one does of medicine. Keep breathing in slowly.
  • Take the inhaler out of your month without opening your mouth wide. Hold your breath for as long as you can

Your doctor may advise you to take oxygen at home, as part of the treatment.

If you have been hospitalised for COPD you may have been given oxygen in the hospital. Oxygen helps people with severe COPD to breathe better. This also reduces the strain on the heart prevents heart failure.

If your doctor prescribes for you to take oxygen at home, you will need to make arrangements for an oxygen cylinder. and oxygen concentrator.  Your doctor will advise you how to go about this

If your breathing gets a lot worse, it could be an emergency. Be prepared to go to your doctor or a hospital straight away.

Get emergency help if you see any of these danger signs:

  • It is hard to talk.
  • It is hard to walk.
  • Lips or fingernails turn grey or blue.
  • The heartbeat or pulse is very fast or irregular.
  • The medicine does not help for very long, or it does not help at all. Even after taking it, breathing is still fast and hard.

Keep all the things you will need ready in one place for emergency

  • Phone numbers of the doctor or the hospital, and people who can take you there.
  • Direction for reaching your doctor’s clinic or the hospital.
  • Your list of medicines.
  • Some extra money.

How to stay healthy ?

Try to keep the air clean in your home. Stay away from smoke and all kinds of fumes and strong smells.

  • If your house is being painted or pest- controlled, try to stay somewhere else temporarily.
  • When you cook, keep a door or window open. This allows fumes and strong get out easily.
  • If you have a stove or ‘
  • “sigri” which uses wood or kerosene fuel, keep a door or window open to let the fumes go out.
  • If there is lot of pollution or dust outside, stay at keep the windows closed.

Keep your body healthy and as strong as possible.

Do breathing exercises.

Ask your doctor to tell you which breathing exercise you should do. These exercise will make your chest muscles stronger. You will be able to breathing more easily.

Take some light exercise regularly. Walking is good.

  • Try to make the muscles in your legs in and arms stronger. This will help you to move around more easily.
  • Try to walk for at least 20 minute every day. Start slowly. If you feel breathless, stop and rest.
  • You can ask your doctor to recommend other exercises for you find exercises which you like to do. Ask a family member or a friend to join you.

Eat health food. Maintain the right weight.

  • Eat lots of fruit and vegetables.
  • Eat protean-rich foods. Some examples of vegetarian protein-rich food are milk soya, dal and of non-vegetarian protein- rich foods are meat, fish, and eggs.
  • If you become breathless when you eat, eat more slowly.
  • Talk less when you are eating.
  • If you feel too full with the usual meals at home, eat smaller meals but more times in a day.
  • If you are heavy, lose weight. It is header to breathe and to move around if you are overweight.
  • If you are too thin, take extra food or nourishing drink to help you to gain weight and stay healthy.
  • Drink lots of fluids such as water and juice. This help to keep the mucus in your lungs thin so that you can cough it out easily.

Make your home life as easy as possible. Avoid physical and mental strain.

  • If you have severe COPD, you should ask your friend and family for help as much as possible.
  • Of course you want to do some things on your own. But do them slowly.
  • Do thing sitting down if possible.
  • In the kitchen, bathroom, put thinks which you need in place that is easy to reach.
  • Find very simple ways to cook, clean and do other housework.
  • Use a small trolley to move thing around.
  • If need to get something which is at a height, ask someone to get it down for you.
  • Keep your clothes loose so you can breathe freely.
  • Wear clothes and shoes that are easy to put on.

If you are going out of the house or you went to travel, plan your trip carefully.

  • Go out during the part of the day when you feel your best. Many people feel best just after they take their medicine.
  • Rest after you eat.
  • Always carry with you the phone numbers of your doctors and family members or friends who can help you in an emergency.
  • If you are having a bad day, stay home. But if you have to go out, you must carry your medicines with you.
  • If you need to travel far from your home, ask your doctor what to help you if you have problem.