COPD encompasses two major respiratory diseases: emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
COPD becomes progressively worse over time but can be often treated. Most are linked to smoking and/or second-hand smoking.
Emphysema: At the tip of your lungs are tiny little air sacs called “alveoli”. This is where the blood exchanges oxygen for CO2. In healthy lungs, these air sacs are very elastic, allowing them to stretch like balloons to absorb the fresh air we inhale. With emphysema, these air sacs harden and lose their elasticity. This causes air to get trapped inside. This understandably hinders our ability to breath.
Chronic Bronchitis: Within the airways are tiny glands. Their job is to make mucus, which helps to filter dust and other pathogens and keep them out of your lungs. With chronic bronchitis, the body produces excessive mucus (phlegm), which can cause chronic coughing and obstruct the airways, which become red and swollen.
Signs & Symptoms
• Shortness of breath
• Chronic cough
• Coughing up thick mucus/phlegm
Common Treatment Options
• Cigarette smoking, vaping
• Second-hand smoke
• Air pollution
• Repeated exposure to coal/grain dust
• Working with chemical fumes
• Severe asthma
• Smoking with asthma
• A rare genetic disorder (Alpha-1 deficiency)