COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This disease makes it difficult for people to breathe. In a normal body, when you take a breath, the air passes airways, and makes its way to millions of small air sacs. Healthy lungs allow the air to pass through easily and the sacs fill up with the air, and then release the air when you exhale. However, with someone who suffers from COPD, it is very difficult for the air to pass through inward and outward to the air sacs.
Causes of COPD
According to multiple medical professionals, 80-90% of people with COPD have it due to smoking cigarettes. However, the remaining 10-20% of COPD patients who are not cigarette smokers normally contract the disease from working in an industrial environment, exposing the lungs to harmful pollutants. Some doctors say that COPD can be a hereditary disease, as well, where certain people are more succeptible to it.
When people smoke cigarettes, it inflames the lungs, especially the linings of the airways. This makes the airways tougher, and less elastic, making it harder for them to expand and contract normally when breathing in oxygen. Those exposed to secondhand smoke are also at risk for COPD, and for those who are never around cigarettes, inhaling other dust, chemicals, and pollution can have a devastating and harmful effect.
Symptoms of COPD
Signs and symptoms that one might have COPD include:
- Mucus build up
- Shortness of breath
If not diagnosed and treated quickly, COPD can progress with worse symptoms. That's why doctors highly encourage patients to be examined when these symptoms start to appear, sooner rather than later. Lifestyle changes, medication, and other forms of treatment can prevent the furthering of the disease.