What is COPD Disease?

What is COPD Disease?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD, is one of two main varieties of lung disorder. COPD actually refers to this small group of lung disorders, both caused by smoking. These include emphysema and chronic bronchitis, and each is very difficult to cope with. These alone are both excellent reasons to avoid the causes of COPD. Often the two illnesses are combined in people who have COPD.

What Causes COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is often the result of many years of smoking. There are other COPD causes, though, such as work place fumes and gases, or overexposure to secondhand smoke.

These can result in the inflammation of the bronchi in the lungs, which reduces the ease of air flow, or the destruction of alveoli in the lungs, which reduces the oxygen that the body is able to take in. In many cases, both of these major developments can be combined to make it particularly difficult for a person with symptoms of COPD to take in enough oxygen.

COPD Symptoms

The first symptoms of COPD may be very mild, but they are a sign that destruction has already taken place. A person with the first COPD symptom may notice that they are having shortness of breath while taking a vigorous walk. Sometimes, people mistake COPD symptoms for lung cancer symptoms or asthma symptoms. Shortness of breath will become more severe over time, and will likely be accompanied by a cough, wheezing, and exhaustion. While these may not sound like serious symptoms, they can become so severe that a person with COPD could be unable to take in anywhere close to enough oxygen. Often, COPD can become worse through exacerbations, or periods of time where the symptoms become dramatically worse. After exacerbations, partial recovery often occurs, but a slight increase in the severity of the symptoms may remain. Any symptom of COPD is uncomfortable and unpleasant, but there have been methods developed to treat them.

COPD Treatments

The most important treatment for COPD is to stop smoking, if it was part of the cause for COPD in the first place. It will be necessary for any person with COPD to discuss a treatment plan with their doctor, but many doctors will prescribe oxygen therapy, as well as various medications that are meant to dampen symptoms, particularly symptoms that have been heightened due to an exacerbation. These may include anti-inflammatory medications, inhaled steroids, and more. Physical therapy may also be recommended in an effort to teach the patient how to breathe more comfortably. COPD treatments are very helpful in treating symptoms and prolonging life, even to the point of the COPD end stage.

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