Respiratory conditions: What is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease?

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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of lung ailments that result to difficulty breathing. It generally includes:

  • Chronic bronchitis – long-standing inflammation of the airways
  • Emphysema – damage to the air sacs within the lungs

The condition is prevalent among middle-aged or elderly individuals who smoke. Most are not even aware that they have the condition.

The breathing issues are likely to worsen gradually over time and can disrupt with normal activities, but treatment can keep the condition under control.

What is the cause?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease develops if the lungs are inflamed, narrowed and damaged. The root cause is smoking but it can oftentimes affect those who do not smoke.

The chances of developing COPD are increased the more an individual smoke and the longer he/she has smoked. In some cases, the condition is brought about by prolonged exposed to harmful dust or fumes or from an uncommon hereditary condition where the lungs are susceptible to damage.

Increased shortness of breath especially if active.

Indications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

The chief indications of COPD include:

  • Increased shortness of breath especially if active
  • Persistent wheezing
  • Frequent chest infections
  • Persistent chesty cough with phlegm

If not treated, the symptoms typically worsen over time. There are phases where they worsen abruptly which is called as a flare-up or exacerbation.

Management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

The damage to the lungs due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is considered permanent, but treatment can help slow down its progression.

The commonly used treatment options include:

  • Inhalers and medications – these help in making breathing easier
  • Cessation of smoking – if an individual is diagnosed with COPD and smokes, this is a vital step to take
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation – this is a special regimen that includes exercise and education
  • Surgery or a lung transplant

The outlook for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease tends to vary for every individual. The condition could not be cured or reversed, but in most cases, proper treatment can keep it under control so that it does not drastically disrupt with daily life.

Disclaimer / More Information

The information posted on this page on chronic obstruction pulmonary disease (COPD) is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize the indications of this respiratory condition, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Kelowna, Saskatoon, Victoria, Surrey, Mississauga, Winnipeg, Red Deer, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.

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