Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
COPD is a disease that gets worse over time and causes difficulty in emptying air from your lungs. This can make it hard to breathe and cause you to become tired from the effort it takes to breathe. COPD encompasses chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and is often used to describe both of these conditions.
What is Chronic Bronchitis?
Chronic bronchitis is a condition that causes swelling and mucus productions in your airways. This results in blocked airways, difficulty breathing, and coughing. Chronic bronchitis is usually diagnosed if a cough that produces mucus has been present for a long time (multiple months).
What is Emphysema?
Emphysema occurs when the walls of the alveoli in the lungs are damaged. The alveoli are air sacs in the lungs that help hold air. When their walls are damaged, it becomes difficult to release the air that we breathe in. With extra air trapped in the lungs, it becomes harder to breathe and can lead to shortness of breath.
What Causes COPD?
- Cigarette Smoke
- Environmental Factor (like heavy exposure to dust or chemicals in the air)
How Do I Know If I Have COPD?
If you are experiencing shortness of breath, coughing, and mucus production that does not go away, then you should visit your healthcare provider to take a breathing test that measures airway obstruction.
How is COPD Treated?
COPD is most common in smokers, and the first treatment for smokers is to quit smoking.
For smokers and non-smokers who contract COPD, medications can be prescribed to reduce swelling in the airways.
Sometimes oxygen is restricted in people who have COPD, and an oxygen supplement can then be prescribed as well.