COPD: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

COPD: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Groups of lung diseases that cause severe lack of oxygen are considered chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases or COPD. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are the most common COPD conditions. Chronic bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of your bronchial tubes. These tubes carry air to and from your lungs. Emphysema develops when the air sacs or alveoli in your air passages are destroyed.

COPD damage to your lungs cannot be reversed, but there are treatments that can control symptoms and minimize further harm.

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Symptoms

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease symptoms do not appear until there is irreversible damage to the lungs. As time goes on, this damage will worsen and symptoms will be noticeable. Chronic bronchitis symptoms include:

 

  • A cough that you have for at least three months during the year;
  • Shortness of breath during physical activities;
  • Wheezing all the time;
  • Chest tightness;
  • Clearing your throat all the time and particularly first thing in the morning;
  • A chronic cough that produces clear, white or yellow sputum
  • Blue fingernail beds or cyanosis;
  • Respiratory infections;
  • Fatigue;
  • Weight loss.

You may also experience episodes or exacerbations where symptoms persist for days or weeks.

Emphysema caused COPD often begins with smoking or being exposed to fumes from burning fuel used for cooking and heating.  It is estimated that about 20 percent of chronic smokers develop COPD and other lung conditions.

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Causes

Your windpipe, trachea, or two large bronchi or tubes are the passageways for air to travel to your lungs. The bronchi divide into branches and smaller tubes that end in clusters of air sacs or alveoli. These sacs are very thin and full of capillaries. When oxygen passes into these capillaries carbon dioxide is expelled out of your body. The delicate dance depends on the natural elasticity of the bronchial tubes and air sacs to force carbon dioxide out of the body. If you are suffering from COPD these tubes and sac