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COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) DESCRIPTION
COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, also known as Chronic Obstructive Airway Disease (COAD), refers to a group of lung related disorders that include chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and like diseases. It is marked by complication of airflow in the air-tract of our body, resulting in shortness of breath accompanied by persistent cough (with production of sputum) and wheezing. In complicated cases, blood may come with sputum, and there may be signs of cyanosis, i.e. bluish pigmentation in the lips and fingers.
Why does it happen?
The most potent cause of COPD is cigarette smoking. A major share of COPD cases in the US are due to tobacco smoke. Continuous smokers are always at risk to suffer from COPD. Occupational pollutants like silica and cadmium, so common with coal field workers, metal workers, cotton workers, and the like are other risk factors for COPD. Likewise, the growing menace of air pollution, especially in the urban areas, too pushes people towards this disorder. Apart from this, genetic factors are also responsible for COPD cases, though such occurring is rare.
What actually happens?
The air ways in our body system are patterned like up side down branches of a tree. At the end of each such branch are a bunch of air sacs (the alveoli). In normal cases, the air way is clear and air reaches each air sac unobstructed, making them swell up. Again, as air leaves, the sacs get deflated. It goes on in a regular rhythm. A person suffering from COPD faces shortness of breath because, the normal elasticity of the air sacs and the air passage are damaged. In many cases, walls between the air sacs are damaged, and the walls of the air passage become thicker and swollen, resulting in less amount of air to pass. Also, production of excess sputum clog the air way.
There is no total cure for COPD. However, it can be managed to an extent. Cessation of smoking, change in occupation, and some types of pharmacotherapy are also available. Proper diet habit also helps in keeping the abnormalities and the associated hazards under control.