An Overview of COPD
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a group of progressive inflammatory diseases which makes it difficult for the afflicted person to breathe. These diseases cause airflow blockage in the lungs. Examples of such diseases are:
- Emphysema – A condition in which the alveoli in the lungs become filled with air and may expand to such an extent that they burst, or get damaged forming scarred tissues.
- Chronic bronchitis – A condition in which the bronchi develop an inflammation, and produce a lot of sputum which causes severe coughing, resulting in difficulty to let the air in and out of the lungs.
- Asthma – An inflammatory disease in which the air passageways are narrowed down due to swelling, causing breathing problems.
According to the World Health Organization, by 2030 COPD will be the third leading factor of death in the world.
Common symptoms of COPD are:
- Feeling contraction in the chest
- Relentless coughing
- Shortness of breath especially when exercising
- Coughing with mucus
The Connection between Smoking and COPD
One of the leading causes of COPD is smoking. Smoking also triggers attacks known as exacerbations or flare-ups in COPD where all the aforementioned symptoms become more pronounced. Smoking causes damage to the lungs by degrading the elastic walls between air sacs and stiffening the air sacs, inflammation of air ways, obstructing the airways by excess mucus. Tobacco smoke is the greatest risk factor for developing COPD. People who smoke both marijuana and tobacco are at a greater risk of developing this chronic disease. Chances of becoming afflicted with COPD increase with the amount of tobacco smoked per day as well as the number of years of persistent smoking. Sometimes, people who are passive smokers also develop COPD flare-ups.
Treating COPD in Smokers
No cure of COPD has been discovered yet but taking precautionary measures alleviate the symptoms greatly and prevent further degradation of lungs. The first step to treat COPD in smokers is to quit smoking entirely. Quitting this injurious habit will slow down the progression of the disease and make the quality of life better, so it is never too late to stop smoking.
It may seem as if smoking is an everlasting habit but presently there are certain treatments that are proving to be worthwhile at helping people to quit smoking. Some of these are:
- Replacing the intake of nicotine inhaled from tobacco with some other means
- Taking medicines like bupropion and varenicline
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