Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) describes a collection of lung diseases that encompass such conditions as chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive airways disease, and emphysema. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease makes it difficult for individuals with the condition to breath in and out normally. Smoking has been determined to be the main cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  Breathing tobacco smoke destroys the fleshy fibers in the lungs and also causes the airways to become irritated. Inhaling dust, air pollution, and chemical fumes over a long period of time can also contribute to the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The American Lung Association has determined that over 12 million people within the United States have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

What are the Symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease?

Symptoms may include a persistent cough that produces an inordinate amount of mucus, difficulty breathing during physical activity, a feeling of tightness in the chest, and frequent cases of the flu and colds.  By the time symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease appear there has already been a notable amount of damage done to the lungs.

Other symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may include unintentional weight loss, blueness of the lips, and swelling of the ankles, legs, or feet.

How is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Treated?

Treatment involves the cessation of smoking. Since most smokers have tried many times to quit smoking without success consider asking your doctor about nicotine replacement products. Treatment may also involve attending smoking cessation support groups. Some medications used to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may include bronchodilators and inhaled steroids that make it easier to breathe.

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Last Reviewed:
September 13, 2016
Last Updated:
September 06, 2017