older adults

After age 40, take care of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Symptoms and treatments of this irreversible disease

Globally, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the fourth leading cause of death and it is estimated that by 2020 it will rise to third place.

Abelardo Elizondo Ríos, head of the pulmonology section of the Mexican Society of Pneumology and Thoracic Surgery, warns that more than 3 million patients over 40 die each year of COPD in the world.

“In Mexico, 25 thousand patients die each year from COPD, approximately 80 people a day. This disease will progress because the life expectancy of the population is increasing and is a disease that tends to appear in people over 40.

“In Mexico, the population over 40 years of age who have smoked at some time in their lives, who have been exposed to wood smoke or irritating substances can suffer the disease by up to 12 percent,” explains the internist pulmonologist and Professor of the Faculty of Medicine of the University Hospital.

COPD is an irreversible and progressive chronic disease over time, which obstructs the flow of air from the lungs.

“COPD can develop due to two diseases, chronic bronchitis or pulmonary emphysema, both diseases have consequences at the respiratory level, obstruction to the passage of air, difficulty to get air into each breath and destruction of lung tissue in the walls of the socket”.

It is caused by long-term exposure to active and passive cigarette smoke, irritating gases or particles such as dust or chemicals and wood smoke.

“The cigar increases the chances of getting cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, ischemic heart disease, myocardial infarctions, cerebrovascular diseases, osteoporosis, and lung cancer,” says Elizondo Ríos.

“These patients, as they smoke, as they are exposed to these risk factors are generally people who do not exercise, who are sedentary, and sometimes have these associated diseases.”

It can also occur due to respiratory disorders during birth, repeated infections, and genetic problems.

“It is very common to see COPD patients with heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes or obesity, there are many diseases associated with COPD, and sometimes the diagnoses are not correct. For this, spirometry studies should be done and other types of diseases ruled out.” he points out.

Every year on the third Thursday of November, World COPD Day is commemorated.


According to Abelardo Elizondo Ríos, head of the pulmonology section of the Mexican Society of Pneumology and Thoracic Surgery, special attention should be given to people over 40 who smoke or have smoked in their lives, since they are more prone in presenting a COPD chart.

The symptoms are:

– Chronic cough lasting several months or years

– Transparent phlegm

– Shortness of breath

Chest pain

– Trouble breathing, especially during physical activity

– Whistle when breathing

– Chest pressure

– The blue color on the lips or nail beds (cyanosis)

– Frequent respiratory infections

– Lack of energy

– Involuntary weight loss (in the most advanced stages)

– Swelling in the ankles, feet or legs


Although COPD is not a curable disease, it is treatable and there are two types of treatments that can be performed: non-pharmacological and pharmacological.

“As this disease is progressive, if the treatment is not given so much non-pharmacological, as adequate pharmacological, the patient continues to lose lung function, until a time comes when they are drowning, and any minimal activity causes them much agitation and until death, “explains the specialist.

Non-farm treatment:

– Give up smoking

– Exercise

– Pulmonary rehabilitation programs

– Vaccination against influenza, pneumonia, pneumococcus.

Pharmacological Tratamine:

– Inhaled bronchodilators and steroids: dilate the airway to make the air passage easier. The patient improves his lung function and increases his tolerance for physical activity.

With information from Abelardo Elizondo Ríos, head of the pulmonology section of the Mexican Society of Pneumology and Surgery of Tóra.