Web Extra: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Web Extra: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

What is it?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to two lung diseases: chronic bronchitis and emphysema. They normally obstruct airflow and interfere with normal breathing. Both of these conditions frequently co-exist.  Quality of life diminishes as COPD progresses.  It's the fourth leading cause of death in America.
Risk Factors
smoking, air pollution, second-hand smoke, history of childhood respiratory infections and heredity
Chronic Bronchitis
This is the inflammation and eventual scarring of the lining of the bronchial tubes.  When the tubes have been irritated over a long period of time, excessive mucus is produced constantly, the lining of the bronchial tubes becomes thickened, an irritating cough develops, and air flow may be hampered, the lungs become scarred.
Bronchitis Symptoms
chronic cough, increased mucus, frequent clearing of the throat and shortness of breath.
Emphysema
This begins with the destruction of air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs where oxygen from the air is exchanged for carbon dioxide in the blood.
Emphysema Symptoms
cough, shortness of breath and a limited exercise tolerance.
Treatment
prescription drugs, antibiotics, oxygen therapy, and glucocorticosteroids.
For more information about COPD, visit the American Lung Association's Web site.