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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease – Causes and Symptoms of Chronic Obstuctive Disease

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to a group of lung diseases that block airflow and make it difficult for a person to breathe. This is caused due to the damage to the lungs over many years. COPD occurs because of two diseases that is chronic bronchitis and emphysema and this disorder gets worse over time and can damage the lungs but steps can be taken to prevent further damage.

Causes of COPD
COPD refers to obstruction in the lungs. The main causes include:

  • Emphysema: This disease causes inflammation in the walls of the alveoli which can destroy them, and elastic fibers that make the airways to collapse when air is exhaled. This results in impairment of the airflow out of the lungs.
  • Chronic bronchitis: This condition is characterized by the inflammation and narrowing of the bronchial tubes. When the bronchial tubes are inflamed, there is increased mucus production which results in the blocking of the narrowed bronchial tubes.
  • Asthmatic bronchitis: When a person suffers from asthma for a long period of time, it may lead to COPD.
  • Smoking: In a few cases, the lung damage is caused by long-term cigarette smoking, pipe smoking and cigar smoking which results in COPD.
  • Inhaling Irritants: Some of the irritants in the air due to pollution and occupational vapors, fumes and dust can cause COPD.
  • GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease): GERD occurs when the stomach acids regurgitate back into the esophagus. This results in the aggravation of COPD.
  • Age: COPD develops very slowly and occurs in people who are above 40 years when the symptoms begin.
  • Genetics: A rare genetic disorder called alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency is the source in some cases of COPD.

Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of COPD include:

  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss
  • Chronic cough with lot of mucus
  • Blue skin in the lips, fingers and toes
  • Confusion
  • A feeling of fullness and tightness in the belly
  • Fluid collection in the legs and feet
  • Life-threatening COPD flare-ups

When to consult your physician?
When you find the above symptoms, consult your doctor immediately as this may worsen the condition of a patient.

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