The mission of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is
to provide free information and knowledge leading to better health starting
about Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which is a slow
progressing serious and non-curable lung disease...
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a slowly progressive
serious disease of the airways that is characterized by a
gradual loss of lung function. It's has strong similarities
to the lung damage done by chronic emphysema. The disease is
also known by its acronym which is COPD, and includes chronic
bronchitis, chronic obstructive bronchitis, or emphysema,
or combinations of these life-threatening medical conditions.
It represents the 4th leading cause of death in the U.S.
In some people, the start of a chronic cough and its related
sputum production are the first signs they are at risk for
developing the airflow obstruction and shortness of breath
characteristic of "Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease"
In other people, shortness of breath may be the first evidence
they have developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
In the US the most important risk factor for COPD
by far is cigarette smoking. Pipe, cigar, other types of tobacco
smoking, and passive exposure to cigarette smoke are also
risk factors. Other documented causes of COPD include occupational
dusts and chemicals. Outdoor air pollution adds to the total
burden of inhaled particles in the lungs, but its role in
causing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is not certain.
The most important measure for preventing chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease – and for stopping disease progression
– is avoidance of smoking. Also visit the
emphysema organization for more information on how to
stop smoking and potentially save your life, including slowing-down
lung disease progression.
The diagnosis of "chronic obstructive pulmonary disease"
is confirmed by the presence of air-way obstruction on testing
with spirometry. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for
COPD at this time. Chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease
treatment is usually supportive and designed
to relieve chronic obstructive pulmonary disease symptoms and
also improve quality of life.
With continued exposure to cigarettes or noxious particles,
the disease progresses and individuals with COPD increasingly
lose their ability to breathe. Acute infections or certain
weather conditions may temporarily worsen symptoms (exacerbations),
occasionally where hospitalization may be required.
COPD develops slowly, and it may be many years before you
notice symptoms like feeling short of breath. Most of the
time, COPD is diagnosed in middle-aged or older people.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a major cause of
death and illness, and it's the 4th leading cause of death
in the USA and throughout the world.
There is no cure for COPD. The damage to your airways and
lung disease damage cannot be reversed, however there are
things you can do to feel better and slow the damage caused by
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and progression of
COPD is not contagious and you cannot catch it from someone
who already you has the lung disease.
Who Is At Risk for COPD?
Most people with chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease (COPD)
are smokers or former smokers. People with a family history
of COPD are more likely to get the disease if they smoke.
The chance of developing COPD is also greater in people who
have spent many years in contact with lung irritants, such
as: Air pollution - Chemical fumes, vapors, and dusts usually
linked to certain jobs
A person who has had frequent and severe lung infections,
especially during childhood, may have a greater chance of
developing lung damage that can lead to
this is much less common today with anti-biotic treatments.
Most people with COPD are at least 40-years old or middle
age when symptoms start. It is unusual, but possible for people
younger than 40-years old to have COPD.
The signs and symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
include the following listed below:
- Sputum (mucus) production
- Shortness of breath, especially with exercise
- Wheezing - which is a whistling or squeaky sound when
- Chest tightness
A cough that doesn't go away and coughing up lots of mucus
are common signs of COPD. These often occur years before the
flow of air in and out of the lungs is reduced. However, not
everyone with a cough and sputum production goes on to develop
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and not everyone with COPD has a cough.
The symptoms of "chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease" can range from chronic cough and sputum
production to severe disabling shortness of breath. The severity of the symptoms depends on how much of the lung
has been destroyed. If you continue to smoke, the lung destruction
is faster than if you stop smoking.
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How the Lungs Work
The lungs provide a very large surface area (the size of
a football field) for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide
between the body and the environment.
of normal lung looks like a pink sponge filled with tiny bubbles
or holes. These bubbles, surrounded by a fine network of tiny
blood vessels, give the lungs a large surface to exchange
oxygen into the blood where it is carried throughout the body
by veins and arteries
and removes carbon dioxide (out of the blood). This process
is called gas exchange, which healthy lungs do well.
Here is how normal breathing works:
You breathe in air through your nose and mouth. The air travels
down through your windpipe (trachea) then through large and
small tubes in your lungs called bronchial tubes.
The larger tubes are bronchi, and the smaller
tubes are bronchioles. Sometimes the word
"airways" is used to refer to the various tubes
or passages that air must travel through from the nose and
mouth into the lungs. The airways in your lungs look something
like an upside-down tree with many branches.
At the ends of the small bronchial tubes, there are groups
of tiny air sacs called alveoli.
sacs have very thin walls, and small blood vessels called
capillaries run in the walls. Oxygen passes from the air sacs
into the blood in these small blood vessels. At the same time,
carbon dioxide passes from the blood into the air sacs. Carbon
dioxide, a normal by product of the body's metabolism, must
The airways and air sacs in the lung are normally elastic—that
is, they try to spring back to their original shape after
being stretched or filled with air, just the way a new rubber
band or balloon would. This elastic quality helps retain the
normal structure of the lung and helps to move the air quickly
in and out. In COPD, much of the elastic quality is gone,
and the airways and air sacs no longer bounce back to their
This means the airways collapse, like a floppy garden hose,
and air sacs tend to stay inflated. The floppy airways obstruct
the airflow out of the lungs, leading to an abnormal increase
in the lungs' size. In addition, the airways may become inflamed
and thickened, and mucus-producing cells produce more mucus,
further contributing to the difficulty of getting air out
of the lungs.
Causes of "chronic obstructive pulmonary disease"
Smoking Is the Most Common Cause of COPD
Most cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
develop after repeatedly breathing in fumes and other things
that irritate and damage the lungs and airways. Cigarette
smoking is the most common irritant that causes COPD. Pipe,
cigar, and other types of tobacco smoke can also cause COPD,
especially if the smoke is inhaled. Breathing in other fumes
and dusts over a long period of time may also cause COPD.
The lungs and airways are highly sensitive to these irritants.
They cause the airways to become inflamed and narrowed, and
they destroy the elastic fibers that allow the lung to stretch
and then return to its resting shape. This makes breathing
air in and out of the lungs more difficult.
Other things that may irritate the lungs and contribute to
- Working around certain chemicals and breathing in the
fumes for many years, including asbestos fibres, which may
also cause mesothelioma
- Working in a dusty area over many years
- Heavy exposure to air pollution
- Being around second-hand smoke (smoke in the air from
other people smoking cigarettes) also plays a role in an
individual developing COPD.
Genes are tiny bits of information in your body cells passed
on by your parents and may play a role in developing COPD.
In rare cases, COPD is caused by a gene-related disorder called
alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency. Alpha 1 antitrypsin
is a protein in your blood that inactivates destructive proteins.
People with antitrypsin deficiency have low levels of alpha
1 antitrypsin; the imbalance of proteins leads to the destruction
of the lungs and COPD. If people with this condition smoke,
the disease progresses more rapidly.
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