COPD is characterized by chronic airway obstruction as measured by office spirometry, that is not completely corrected by the use of an inhaler. This most often occurs in current or former smokers
Patients present with progressive shortness of breath, wheezing, cough, sputum production and occasionally this sputum may contain blood.
Full evaluation usually requires pulmonary function testing, pulmonary stress testing, chest x-ray, pulse oximetry and often chest CT scan, which can also be used in the early detection of lung cancer.
Benefit is always achieved by smoking cessation.
Many new inhaler options are available including bronchodilators, inhaled steroids and much research has recently been done on the addition of specific antibiotics such as Zithromax and antioxidants like NAC.
Severe COPD patients may benefit from oxygen therapy