Definition of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
by Eric Smith
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.
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.
Long term cigarette smoking is a primary cause of the lung damage that is associated with COPD.
Exposure to chemical dusts, vapors and fumes can increase the risk of developing COPD.
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.
Doctors may perform pulmonary function tests to measure breathing abilities. Chest x-rays, arterial blood gas analysis and sputum examinations may be conducted.
Smokers must stop smoking, medications may be prescribed to support breathing and oxygen therapy may be used to treat COPD.