Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD is a type of obstructive lung disease that causes poor airflow.
It is a leading cause of death in the US with 16 million people affected by it, and also millions more who don’t know they have it.
It is characterized by increasing shortness of breath with slowly developing symptoms.
The most common cause of developing COPD is smoking.
At the moment, there is no cure for COPD, but most of the time it’s treatable.
The term COPD is generally used for a mix of the conditions of emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Emphysema is a chronic lung disease that manifests damage to the alveoli, which then provokes a loss of their elasticity. This leads to air becoming trapped in the alveoli and they expand and rupture, causing more damage.
Chronic bronchitis is an inflammation that causes mucus accumulation in the airways and leads to blockage of the airways. It regularly causes recurrent infections.
Bronchiectasis means having widening and scarring of the airways. These caused by repeated lung infections in childhood.
Smoking is the leading cause for developing COPD, one out of five smokers will develop significant COPD. Also, long-term second-hand smoking can cause COPD.
Long-term exposure to harmful pollutants like certain chemicals, dust, or fumes can cause COPD.
And the cause of about 1 percent of COPD cases is alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency.
Early symptoms of COPD are commonly ignored as they include shortness of breath or getting tired easily.
These symptoms might be later followed by a cough. And then the cough could be accompanied by the production of mucus, phlegm, or spots of blood. The easy everyday activities may leave you wheezing or gasping for air.
Common signs and symptoms:
- constant coughing, sometimes known as a “smoker’s cough”
- shortness of breath while doing everyday activities
- an in ability to breath easily or just take a deep breath
- excess mucus production coughed up as sputum
- blueness of the lips or fingernail beds
- common respiratory infections
- lack of energy
In case you currently are a smoker or have been one, or you have been exposed to harmful lung irritants for a long period of time, or your family has a history of COPD, you should be careful.
We recommend you to ask your doctor about taking a noninvasive spirometry test, which measures how well your lungs are working, even though you might not feel severe symptoms because often times the symptoms aren’t there, but a moderate stage of COPD is.
Current treatments for COPD cannot fix the damage to your lungs. However, some treatments may lower the risk of flare-ups. The treatment definitely makes it easier for you to breathe and feel better.
Treatment will probably relieve your symptoms, slow the progress of the disease, improve your physical condition, prevent complications, and improve your overall health.
The most important thing when you face COPD is to quit smoking immediately.
Also, have in mind that if you have COPD, you are more vulnerable to the common cold, influenza, and pneumonia. Plus, you have an increased risk of pulmonary hypertension, which is high blood pressure in the arteries that serve the lungs.
Other complications of COPD could be respiratory infections, heart problems, lung cancer, and depression.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that more than 3 million people died as a result of COPD in 2015. That makes 5 percent of all deaths globally.
90 percent of all COPD deaths in the United States are related to smoking. Some evidence suggests that women could be biologically more susceptible to the lung damage caused by tobacco smoke and environmental pollutants.
For women, smokers are 22 times more probable to die from COPD than nonsmoking women. For men, smokers are 26 times more probable to die from COPD than their nonsmoking counterparts.