Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Topics: Asthma, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Pulmonology Pages: 4 (1467 words) Published: January 13, 2010
COPD which is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is known as a condition that progressively makes it harder to breathe because the airflow into and out of the lungs is reduced. This usually occurs because the airways and air sacs lose their elastic quality, the walls between the air sacs are destroyed, the walls of the airways become swollen, or if the airways are clogged because they made more mucus than usual. Three main conditions of this disease are emphysema, chronic obstructive bronchitis, and asthma. Most patients who suffer from COPD also suffer from emphysema and chronic bronchitis as to why they are commonly just defined as COPD. The patients who experience one or more of these conditions usually find it even more difficult to breathe. It is known to be a major cause of disability, and the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. It is said that approximately 12 million people have been diagnosed with COPD while another 12 million may have it and don’t even know it.

COPD is mostly caused by cigarette smoke; however, pipe, cigar, and other types of tobacco smoke, as well as, second-hand smoke can contribute to this disease. This disease can also be caused by inhalation of air pollution, chemical fumes or dust either in the workplace or from the environment. COPD is usually found in patients of at least 40 years of age; however, it may affect a patient younger if they happen to have the genetic condition, which is alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. Alpha-1 antitrypsin is a protein made in the liver. This is an inherited deficiency that puts patients at a high-risk for lung disease. This deficiency occurs when the AAT proteins are not the right shape, which means they get trapped in the liver cells and cannot get into the bloodstream to travel to the lungs in order to protect them. Signs and symptoms of COPD are chest tightness, wheezing, shortness of breath, and also the “smoker’s cough.” The “smoker’s cough” is defined as an ongoing cough...
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