Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a disease that is comprised by three related conditions which are chronic bronchitis, chronic asthma, and emphysema. COPD is also known as Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (COLD), Chronic Airflow Limitation (CAL), and Chronic Obstructive Respiratory Disease (CORD). In this disease, there is an obstruction in the flow of air both in and out of the lungs causing shortness of breath.
Both asthma and COPD features an obstruction in the airflow in the lungs but the main difference is that obstruction in asthma is reversible. If asthma is left untreated it will later lead to COPD. Chronic bronchitis is a result of the prolonged presence of chronic coughing for three or more months. In this condition, the lungs are damaged and inflamed. Usually, coughing is accompanied by sputum. Since there are more sputum is produced, there is a narrowing of airways where air flow causing difficulty in breathing for the patient. Emphysema, on the other hand, is defined as an abnormal and permanent enlargement of air spaces in bronchioles and destruction of its walls. The destruction of the air space walls reduces surface area available during breathing.
COPD is estimated to affect 32 million people in the United States and it is considered to be the sixth leading cause of death in the said country projected to the fourth by 2030. One of the risk factor of COPD is cigarette smoking. Non-smokers who expose themselves to dusts in their workplaces like coal mines and gold mines are likely to develop COPD later in life. It was found out in studies that people who live in large rural areas are more likely to have COPD brought about by the air pollution in the area. Other medical practitioners consider genetics as a risk factor in contracting the disease.
There is no cure for COPD for now but it is considered treatable and preventable by medical practitioners. Oral and inhaled medications are given to patients to be able to reduce the dyspnea the patients experience and to prevent further complications from occurring. Bronchodilators are medicines that relax the muscle improving the flow of air in the airways. However, cessation from smoking is one of the most practical solutions in slowing down the progression of COPD.