This is a group of lung diseases that affect breathing by destroying lung tissue and/or blocking airways with inflammation and mucous.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to a group of diseases that interfere with normal breathing. It is a progressive condition characterized by narrowing and obstruction in the airways due to inflammation (swelling). This inflammation leads to permanent lung damage. When lung damage occurs, it decreases the lung's ability to provide oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from the blood. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the two most common forms of COPD.
Cigarette smoking accounts for up to 90 percent of all cases of COPD. Other causes include:
COPD is a progressive condition, which means it gets worse as time passes. Early in the course of the disease people do not always know they have the condition. However, the blockage and destruction of the lung tissue increases with time and leads to worsening symptoms. Some of the symptoms of COPD include:
If you have symptoms of COPD, contact your healthcare provider. He or she will ask about your medical history and do a physical exam. They may prescribe an inhaler, a nebulizer and/or oxygen to help improve your breathing. The main goal of the medications is to decrease the inflammation in your lungs and open up the airways. (Antibiotics may also be needed if you have a bacterial infection in your lungs or airways.) Your healthcare provider may also recommend tests to see how well your lungs are working.
Make an appointment with your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of COPD.
Here are some questions to ask your healthcare provider:
Make sure you understand your treatment plan, any possible alternatives, and what medications are recommended (including possible side effects).
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