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Definition of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

by Eric Smith
  • Overview

    Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a group of diseases that affect the lungs, block airflow and cause breathing problems. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are commonly associated with COPD. Chronic asthmatic bronchitis may also be present in COPD cases.
  • Symptoms

    According to the Mayo Clinic, emphysema sufferers may experience wheezing and shortness of breath. Patients with chronic bronchitis may notice a chronic cough and frequent throat clearing.
 
  • Causes

    Long term cigarette smoking is a primary cause of the lung damage that is associated with COPD.
  • Risk Factors

    Exposure to chemical dusts, vapors and fumes can increase the risk of developing COPD.
  • Complications

    Heart problems, high blood pressure and lung cancer can develop in patients with COPD. COPD patients may be more likely to contract pneumonia, influenza and colds.
  • Tests

    Doctors may perform pulmonary function tests to measure breathing abilities. Chest x-rays, arterial blood gas analysis and sputum examinations may be conducted.
  • Treatment

    Smokers must stop smoking, medications may be prescribed to support breathing and oxygen therapy may be used to treat COPD.

    References & Resources