Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is often referred to as COPD. It is a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs in the lungs. It causes the airflow from the lungs to become obstructed. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is often caused by smoking. People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease have an increased risk of developing serious health conditions such as heart disease and lung cancer.
Two of the most common conditions that cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease include emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Emphysema is a condition in which the alveoli at the end of the bronchioles of the lungs are destroyed as a result of damage that occurs with exposure to harmful substances. Chronic bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from the alveoli of the lungs.
The symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease usually don't show up until there is significant lung damage. This often takes time and often occurs when a person has been smoking for a long time. The major symptom of chronic bronchitis is a daily cough and sputum production, which occur at least three months a year for about two consecutive years.
The other signs and symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease include shortness of breath, especially during physical activities, wheezing, chest tightness, having to clear your throat first thing in the morning, due to excess mucus in your lungs, a chronic cough that produces sputum that may be clear, white, yellow or greenish, blueness of the lips or fingernail beds (cyanosis), frequent respiratory infections, lack of energy, and unintended weight loss.
The risk factors for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease include:
· Smoking, or being exposed to people who smoke. The most significant risk factor for COPD is long-term cigarette smoking. The longer you smoke and the more you smoke, the greater your risk.
· Having asthma, and smoking. Smoking and having asthma increases the risk of COPD even more.
· Workplace exposure to dusts and chemicals. Long-term exposure to chemical fumes, vapors and dusts in the workplace can irritate and inflame your lungs.
· Age. Most people are between the ages of 35 and 40 years old when symptoms of COPD begin.
· Genetics. A genetic disorder called alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency is the cause of some cases of COPD. Other genetic factors likely make certain smokers more susceptible to the disease.