Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD is a lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe. A long-term disease that often gets worse over time, and it’s characterised by inflammation and severe limitation of airflow in and out of the lungs.
COPD is an umbrella term used to describe a group of breathing conditions, the most common being chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Many people living with COPD may have both emphysema and chronic bronchitis. A few people have both asthma and COPD..
Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of COPD. long term exposure to second hand smoke or irritants, such as air pollution, dust or workplace fumes and biomass exposure, such as wood smoke can also contribute to COPD. And uncommon genetic disorder called Alpha one antitrypsin deficiency is sometimes associated with COPD. Other respiratory infections such as influenza and pneumonia do not cause COPD. They can make people with COPD. very sick, therefore it is very important to keep these vaccinations up to date.
At first, may cause no symptoms or only mild symptoms. As the disease progresses, common symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness especially with exercise, and an ongoing cough often with a lot of mucus. As COPD symptoms worsen, breathing requires much more energy and it can get harder to exercise or do routine activities, like getting dressed or climbing stairs. This may lead to fatigue, weight loss and muscle loss.
People affected with the disease can experience a variety of symptoms, different stages of COPD range from mild to moderate to severe.
In normal functioning lungs, when air is inhaled, it travels down the wind pipe and into the airways or bronchial tubes of the lungs. Inside the lungs, the airways branch out into smaller and smaller tubes called bronchioles, that are rich in blood supply. At the end of these tubes are billions of tiny air sacs called alveoli.
Normally, the walls of the airways and air sacs are elastic and flexible in nature. Inhaling causes each air sac to fill with air, exhaling causes each air sac to deflate. Efficient uptake of air into the lungs provides oxygen to the blood, which is then carried to all parts of the body.
In C O P D however, the airways become thick and inflamed, and they produce more mucus than usual, this mucus can clog the airways and makes it hard to breathe. In C O P.D. the walls of the air sacs in the lungs are damaged and lose their elastic quality.
The air sacs get floppy, broken and lose their shape.
As the air spaces get larger, air gets trapped and there are fewer air sacs to supply oxygen to the blood, because air is trapped in these air sacs, it is difficult for lungs with C O P D to deflate like normal lungs. This trapped air makes it harder to get fresh air into the lungs and makes breathing more difficult.
1 in 20 Australians aged 45 and over reported COPD in 2014–15. It is predominantly diagnosed in middle aged individuals older than forty years, and it’s present in both women and men. Although COPD is more common in men, more women die from this disease each year than men. The rate of C O P D continues to increase worldwide due to smoking and worsening air pollution.
While there is no cure for C O P.D, you can take steps to feel better, stay more active and slow disease progression. C O P D can be managed by consulting early with your health care provider, seeking diagnosis and intervention therapies, and adopting lifestyle changes that include quitting smoking, pulmonary rehabilitation, healthy eating and exercise, and maintaining a positive outlook.
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