COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is is one of the most common lung diseases, including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory asthma, and severe bronchiectasis. This disease is characterized by increasing breathlessness.
What are causes?
Smoking and its passive effects are the leading causes of COPD, 90% of COPD in the United States are come from smoking.
Moreover, effects of “second-hand smoke”, i.e., children and people who live in households where adults smoke are at higher risk of getting respiratory infections, asthma, and symptoms than those who do not.
There are outdoor and indoor air pollution which can contribute to the development of COPD. However, in the non-industrialized world, the most common cause of COPD is indoor air pollution. This is usually due to indoor stoves used for cooking.
The COPD may be caused by some occupational pollutants such as cadmium and silica. Persons at risk for this type of occupational pollution include coal miners, construction workers, metal workers, cotton workers, etc.
Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is a rare genetic (inherited) disorder that accounts for less than 1% of the COPD in the United States.
What are COPD’s symptoms?
The symptoms of COPD develop slowly, some people may not know that they are sick. There are some basic advanced symptoms of COPD:
- Cough, with or without mucus
- Many respiratory infections
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea) that gets worse with mild activity
- Trouble catching one’s breath
How is COPD diagnosed?
A medical history will disclose many of the signs of COPD
A physical test shows many symptoms of COPD.
Other tests include chest X-ray, computerized tomography (CAT or CT scan) of the chest, tests of lung function (pulmonary function tests) and the measurement of carbon dioxide and oxygen levels in the blood.
What should be done to treat COPD?
- quitting cigarette smoking;
- taking medications to dilate airways (bronchodilators) and decrease airway inflammation;
- vaccination against flu influenza and pneumonia;
- regular oxygen supplementation; and
- pulmonary rehabilitation.