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COPD: Symptoms and Causes


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, usually known as COPD is a chronic inflammatory lung disorder that results in obstructed airflow from the lungs. Patients suffering from the condition may experience wheezing, breathing difficulty, mucus production, and cough. It is mainly caused by prolonged exposure to particulate matter or irritating gases. However, two major conditions, namely, chronic bronchitis and Emphysema contribute to COPD. Chronic bronchitis is basically a condition in which the lining of the bronchial tubes swells up, which in turn causes difficulty in breathing, and thus results in daily cough and mucus production. Emphysema is a condition in which the alveoli (air sacs) at the end of the bronchioles (smallest air passages) of the lungs are damaged due to constant exposure to particulate matter, cigarette smoke, and other irritating gases. COPD can surely worsen over time if not appropriately taken care of. Hence, it is important to know the condition well and consult a doctor for treatment. 


COPD: Symptoms and Causes


What are the symptoms of COPD?

COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is a pulmonary disorder that causes breathing problems and wheezing. It affects daily life and can also give rise to other conditions such as lung cancer, heart disease, and many more. Hence, it is important to be well aware of how our body is responding to the changes in day-to-day life and take action accordingly. The below-mentioned are some of the common symptoms and signs of the condition. Make sure you go through them well, do your research if needed, and if you ever happen to go through any of them consistently, kindly visit a doctor on an immediate note. 

  • Breathing difficulty: - Breathing difficulty is the first and most common sign of COPD. You will experience shortness of breath while performing physical activities such as climbing stairs, playing sports, doing household chores, jogging, running, and many more. 

  • Chest tightness: - Patients dealing with COPD may even experience discomfort in the chest. This might later result in developing other heart diseases. 

  • Wheezing: - Wheezing is the high-pitched whistling sound that is made while breathing. It is caused due to the swelling and narrowing of the airways. It happens in people suffering from asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. 

  • Lack of energy: - Constant dealing with breathing issues and chest tightness also result in fatigue and tiredness.  

  • Swelling in ankles, legs, or feet: - COPD is a chronic health condition. If not taken appropriate care of, it might also result in inflammation in the feet, ankles, or legs.  

  • Weight loss: - As mentioned above, COPD worsens over time. At the later stage, when the condition gets even more severe, it might cause unintended weight loss. 

  • Respiratory infections: - People with COPD often suffer from frequent respiratory infections. This is because patients dealing with it find it tough to clear their lungs of dust, bacteria, and other air pollutants. This increases the risk of infections which can even damage the lungs. 

  • Chronic cough with mucus: - Constant cough with phlegm is also a major sign of COPD. Get yourself checked by a healthcare professional if you ever happen to experience such an issue. 


What are the causes of COPD?

As per research, there are several factors responsible for the cause of COPD in both adults and children. Nevertheless, the causes might vary from individual to individual depending on the lifestyle pattern. Here are some of the generic causes that might help you understand the condition better: -

  • Smoking: - Tobacco smoking is by far the most common reason for people to get asthma and COPD. The toxins in cigarette weaken the lungs’ functioning, narrows down air passages, and causes infection and inflammation in the air tubes. All these factors further contribute to the develop COPD in people. 

  • Secondhand smoke: - Even if you are a non-smoker, there is also a chance of getting diagnosed with COPD by living with one. Hence, it is better to maintain a distance when you see people smoking. 

  • Pollution and dust: - Constant exposure to pollution and dust is also responsible for the condition. Breathing in polluted air can clog air pipes and result in asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.  

  • Asthma: - Asthma is a respiratory condition in which the airways swell and narrow and start producing extra mucus. Untreated asthma can cause lung damage over time which leads to COPD.  

  • Genetics: - If you have a family history of COPD, there is a chance that you might even develop the condition. However, you can always work on the symptoms if they ever show up and keep them at bay.  

  • Exposure to chemical and burning fuel: - Continued exposure to chemical fumes and vapors can cause inflammation and irritation in the lungs. Also, people exposed to the fumes of burning fuels for cooking in poorly-ventilated homes are at a higher risk of developing COPD. 


Conclusion: -

With the increase in development, we have become prone to airborne diseases. This is something we cannot do anything about. But all we can do is take care of ourselves and be mindful of our day-to-day activities. You can always wear a mask so that you do not inhale toxicants, stay away from allergens like pollen grains and dust mites, avoid smoking, and many others. These are the tiny little steps you can incorporate in your daily life to stay away from or prevent Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the main cause of COPD?

    There are many causes of COPD, but Smoking stands to be the major one and is responsible for every 9 out of 10 cases.

  • Is COPD a serious disease?

    COPD is a serious disease that can even lead to death if not taken proper care of.

  • Can COPD go away?

    There’s no cure for COPD. But, adequate treatment can control the symptoms well and make the condition bearable.

  • What is the best medicine for COPD?

    Short-acting bronchodilator inhalers are considered to be the first treatment for COPD. However, your doctor will guide you about the medications and the treatment plan.

  • How does COPD progress to death?

    COPD can progressively worsen with time if not taken appropriate care. Over time, the body becomes unable to take in enough oxygen, which ultimately results in death.


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