COPD: A brief overview

 What is COPD?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a chronic disease in which the lungs become inflamed and thicken, and the tissue where oxygen is exchanged is destroyed. The flow of air in and out of your lungs decreases. When that happens, less oxygen gets into your body tissue, and it becomes harder to get rid of the waste gas carbon dioxide. As the disease gets worse, shortness of breathing makes it harder to remain active. Sometimes referred to as chronic bronchitis or emphysema, COPD can be prevented and can be treated. If not treated, it can cause serious long-term disability and early death.

What causes COPD

Smoking:  The main cause of COPD is smoking. About 85-90 percent of all COPD cases are caused by cigarette smoking. When a cigarette burns, it creates more than 7,000 chemicals, most of which are harmful. The toxins in cigarette smoke weaken your lungs’ defense against infections, narrow air passages, cause swelling in air tubes and destroy air sacs, all leading to COPD.

Air pollution: Long-term exposure to air pollution, secondhand smoke and dust, fumes and chemicals (which are often work related) can cause COPD

Alpha-1 Deficiency (Genetics): A small number of people have a rare form of COPD called Alpha-1 deficiency-related emphysema. This form of COPD is caused by a genetic (inherited) condition that affects the body’s ability to produce a protein (Alpha-1) that protects the lungs.

5 steps to reduce your risk for COPD

-If you are a smoker, STOP SMOKING. Quitting smoking is the single most important thing a smoker can do to live a longer and healthier life.

-If you don’t smoke, don’t start. Smoking causes COPD, lung cancer, heart disease and other cancers.

-Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. Make your home smoke free. You will not only protect yourself, but your family too.

-Avoid exposure of chemicals, dust and fumes. Help fight for clean air.

-Work with others in your community to help clean up the air you community to help clean up the air and your family breath.


By Dr. Satyajit Acharya,

In charge-Pulmonary Medicine

SUM Ultimate Medicare

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