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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) means the group of diseases causing progressive damages to the lung. It includes:

  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Emphysema

Out of these three COPDs, chronic bronchitis and emphysema are mainly caused by tobacco smoking.

Chronic bronchitis : This is an inflammation or irritation in the airways called bronchial tubes of the lungs. Thick mucus is formed plugging up the airways and making it difficult to get air into the lung. Symptoms of chronic bronchitis include:

  • Cough producing sputum
  • Breathing trouble
  • Tightness in the chest

Causes : Main cause behind chronic bronchitis is cigarette smoking. The tobacco smoke irritates the airways of the lung and produces mucus. Again long time exposure to chemical fumes, dust and other harmful substances can also be responsible for bronchitis besides tobacco smoke.

Emphysema : This disease is responsible for loss of elasticity in the wall of small air sacs in the lung. Due to loss of elasticity, the walls cannot stretch normally, so they break into larger and less efficient air sacs. This way, the normal exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide is hindered. As a result, breathing becomes a difficult process consuming 20 % of resting energy of a human body.

Symptoms of Emphysema Include;

  • Shortness of breath to a severe degree and
  • Trouble in breathing when lying down
  • Chronic mild cough
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Less energy for physical activity

Causes : Most common cause behind this disease is tobacco smoking. Tobacco temporarily paralyzes the microscopic hairs or cilia lining the bronchial tubes...and the damage begins there. The task of these hairs is to clean irritants and germs out of the lung airways. But tobacco ingredients obstruct the cleaning process and so the germs remain in the bronchial tubes and creep into the alveoli. As a result, the tissues are inflamed and ultimately break down elastic fibers. Low level of alpha-1-antitryspin protein can also be the cause of emphysema because this protein is responsible for protecting elastic structure in the lungs and at the same time it also protects them from the harmful enzymes.

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