#Breaking World COPD Day : What Is COPD

Health news

What Is
COPD

Every year
on this day 20th November, World COPD Day is celebrated all
over the world. According to a document of NHLBI (National Heart, Lung, and
Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services.) COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a
progressive disease that makes it hard to breathe. Progressive means the
disease gets worse over time.

COPD can
cause coughing that produces large amounts of a slimy substance called mucus,
wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and other symptoms.

COPD can
often be prevented. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of COPD.

Most people
who have COPD smoke or used to smoke. However, up to 25 percent of people with
COPD never smoked. Long-term exposure to other lung irritants—such as air
pollution, chemical fumes, or dusts—also may contribute to COPD. A rare genetic
condition called alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency can also cause the
disease.

Within the
lungs, your bronchial tubes branch many times into thousands of smaller,
thinner tubes called bronchioles. These tubes end in bunches of tiny round air
sacs called alveoli.

Small blood
vessels called capillaries run along the walls of the air sacs. When air
reaches the air sacs, oxygen passes through the air sac walls into the blood in
the capillaries. At the same time, a waste product, called carbon dioxide (CO2)
gas, moves from the capillaries into the air sacs. This process, called gas
exchange, brings in oxygen for the body to use for vital functions and removes
the CO2.

The airways
and air sacs are elastic or stretchy. When you breathe in, each air sac fills
up with air, like a small balloon. When you breathe out, the air sacs deflate
and the air goes out.

In COPD,
less air flows in and out of the airways because of one or more of the
following:

The airways
and air sacs lose their elastic quality.

The walls
between many of the air sacs are destroyed.

The walls of
the airways become thick and inflamed.

The airways
make more mucus than usual and can become clogged.

In the
United States, the term COPD includes two main conditions—emphysema and chronic
bronchitis. In emphysema, the walls between many of the air sacs are damaged.
As a result, the air sacs lose their shape and become floppy. This damage also
can destroy the walls of the air sacs, leading to fewer and larger air sacs
instead of many tiny ones. If this happens, the amount of gas exchange in the
lungs is reduced.

In chronic bronchitis, the lining of the airways stays constantly irritated and inflamed, and this causes the lining to swell. Lots of thick mucus forms in the airways, making it hard to breathe.

Most people
who have COPD have both emphysema and chronic bronchitis, but the severity of
each condition varies from person to person. Thus, the general term COPD is
more accurate.

COPD : A
major cause of disability

COPD is a
major cause of disability
, and it is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.
Currently, 16 million people are diagnosed with COPD. Many more people may have
the disease and not even know it.

COPD
develops slowly.

Symptoms
often worsen over time and can limit your ability to do routine activities.
Severe COPD may prevent you from doing even basic activities like walking, cooking,
or taking care of yourself.

Most of the
time, COPD is diagnosed in middle-aged or older adults. The disease is not
contagious, meaning it cannot be passed from person to person.

COPD is the
result of damage to the lungs from smoking cigarettes or by breathing in
second-hand smoke or other lung irritants—such as air pollution, chemical
fumes, or dusts. COPD has no cure yet, and doctors do not know how to reverse
the damage to the lungs. However, treatments and lifestyle changes can help you
feel better, stay more active, and slow the progress of the disease.

(Note – This news is not a medical consultation
in any case. You can not make any decision based on this news story. Do not
become a doctor yourself, consult a qualified doctor.)

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Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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