What is COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a condition in which the air passages in the lungs constrict and cannot process airflow efficiently. The main cause of the development of COPD has to do with something that triggers an unusual inflammatory response in the lungs. These elements can be due to prolonged exposure to airborne particles or gases present in places where the individual frequents, such as a workplace. COPD may also have its roots in tobacco use, which is among the most common causes of the condition.

In all cases, the element or cause of the condition triggers one or more abnormal responses from some part of the lungs. When the triggered response includes the development of mucus or sputum that is regularly expelled, there is a good chance that the reaction is centered around the largest airways in the lungs. The condition is likely to first lead to the development of bronchitis and then progress to COPD.

COPD can appear as an infection in the lung tissue itself that causes the tissue to begin to deteriorate. When this happens, the inflammation focuses on the alveoli and will usually start as emphysema. With continued exposure to the trigger, COPD will develop.

A diagnosis of COPD usually occurs when symptoms associated with bronchitis or emphysema suddenly get worse. Doctors will perform a series of tests aimed at evaluating the capacity and efficiency of the lungs. Once the severity of the condition is determined, it is possible to develop a treatment regimen that will help slow the development of COPD and perhaps provide some relief at the same time. However, it is important to remember that there is no real cure for COPD, only treatments to minimize discomfort and enable the sufferer to enjoy a better quality of life.

Once a diagnosis of COPD is confirmed, one of the first steps in treating the condition is to eliminate potential triggers that could worsen the disease at a faster rate. For example, avoiding tobacco use and refraining from inhaling secondhand smoke will eliminate a potential trigger. Likewise, it may be prudent to seek a different line of work if the work environment contains constant exposure to airborne particles such as coal dust.

Another way to deal with COPD involves maintaining a healthy weight. This means avoiding gaining too much weight or losing more pounds than your doctor thinks is healthy. By keeping the body weight within acceptable limits, less pressure is put on the lungs and the individual is much less likely to have a sudden attack.

There are several medications that can be prescribed to help ease the suffering caused by COPD. Doctors match the current state of the condition with an appropriate drug for that stage of development. Taking medication as recommended by your doctor is an important part of living with COPD and its symptoms.

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