What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease?

A chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a progressive respiratory condition wherein the patient finds it difficult to breath. On top of this breathing difficulty, those who are diagnosed with the condition also often cough out large amounts of mucus. There are also instances of wheezing, tightening of the chest, as well as shortness of breath. The term chronic means that the effects can be felt for a prolonged period of time, and the condition’s progressive nature means that it often worsens as time goes by as well.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD for short is better understood with knowledge of how the lungs work. Inside the lungs, there are numerous bronchial tubes that serve as airways where air passes through. These tubes then branch out to even smaller tubes known as bronchioles. At the end of these bronchioles are bunches of rounded air sacs called alveoli, and this is where the air is transferred to the blood through small blood vessels known as the capillaries. The airways and the air sacs have an elastic property that allows them to stretch as air passes through them. Each inhalation causes the air sacs to fill up like small balloons, and every exhalation causes these sacs to deflate. In cases of COPD, there is less air that is able to flow through the airways and air sacs. These parts are also less elastic and are in fact floppy and appear to be all stretched out for those who have the pulmonary disease.

There are a number of reasons why there is a decreased amount of air that is able to pass through the airways. One reason could be that the airways and the air sacs have simply lost their elasticity due to overuse. In some cases of the pulmonary disease, the disorder has been cause by the destruction of walls between the many air sacs of the lungs. There is also a possibility that the walls that are between the airways are the ones that are thick and inflamed. On top of these reasons, another cause of the pulmonary disease is when there is more mucus that is produced by the airways, thus causing the passageways to be blocked.

One problem with COPD is the fact that it develops slowly and is often not experienced until years after exposure to the substance that caused them. The most common cause for this condition is none other than smoking itself, with many patients being smokers or having smoked for a long period before they experienced the disorder. Although many people disregard the warnings about cigarette smoking, COPD is actually one of the major causes of disability in different occupations all over the world. In the United States, it has even been recorded as the third leading cause of death. Again, this disorder develops slowly and when it does, it gets worse over time. There are yet to be any cures for this condition, and there is no known way as to how to reverse the effects. It seems that for those who have COPD, the only option not to worsen the condition is to have a change in lifestyle so as to slow down the development of the disease.