Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis in which both can cause the obstruction of the airways. Remember that both conditions occur at the same time.
What are the causes?
- Smoking is the main cause in most reported cases. The lining of the airways become inflamed and impaired by smoking. The risk is high among those who continue to smoke.
- Being exposed to air pollution and polluted work conditions might be the cause of COPD or worsen the condition. The combination of exposure in the workplace and smoking increases the risk for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- Some individuals have a genetic risk for developing the condition due to rare deficiencies in protein that can lead to liver, lung and blood conditions.
It is important to note that individuals who have never smoked rarely develop the condition. On the other hand, passive smoking remains as a possible cause.
Indications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Cough is the initial symptom to develop which is usually productive and tends to come and go at first and gradually becomes persistent.
- Shortness of breath and wheezing can occur during exertion such as climbing stairs. These tend to worsen gradually over the years if the individual continues to smoke. Take note that shortness of breath can be quite distressing.
- Sputum is produced by the damaged airways. The individual tends to cough up large amounts of sputum every day.
- Chest infections are common if an individual has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The abrupt worsening of the symptoms is called exacerbation. Cough, wheezing and shortness of breath worsen if a chest infection is present. As for the sputum, it is increased and turns green or yellow in color.
- The other symptoms can be vague such as tiredness, weight loss and swollen ankles.