“COPD affects 24 million Americans and reaches people in all the 50 states” (COPD statistics across America). What exactly is this disease that is affecting so many people across the United States? It’s chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. COPD is described almost exactly as it sounds. It is a chronic disease that obstructs breathing, making it difficult to breathe. According to Mayo clinic staff, it is defined as a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs. This disease can be very debilitating. It is the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States (what is COPD?, 2013). Many people can live with this disease and not even realize that they have it, because there are a couple different components to this disease. COPD is due to two common conditions, it has many signs and symptoms, along with a couple treatment or maintenance medications, and also some precursors and complications.
COPD is composed of two main conditions. These include chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Both of these conditions can be caused by a long term irritant from the environment, or just a genetic disposition to COPD. This irritant can be cigarette smoke, secondhand smoke, environmental pollutants, or dust (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2015). It can cause severe damage to structures associated with the respiratory system, causing the difficulty breathing and the other symptoms associated with COPD. “Chronic bronchitis is inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from the air sacs (alveoli) of the lungs. It is characterized by daily cough and sputum production. Emphysema is a condition in which the air sacs (alveoli) at the end of the smallest air...
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...ecursor to this disease is smoking. This includes cigarettes, cigars, or marijuana. “Some studies show that up to half of long-term smokers older than age 60 get COPD (Thompson, E., Yoneda, K., 2014).” One of the best ways to avoid getting COPD is to stop smoking. Another precursor is long-term exposure to environmental irritants or pollutants. These can include dust, chemicals, secondhand smoke, and general air pollutants. The last common precursor is genetic, which is the alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. This deficiency alone can cause COPD.
COPD affects millions of people. It has many signs and symptoms, some options for treatments, and also precursors that one would need to look for. Although this disease affects a lot of people, with the right treatments or maintenance, one can live with it for many years and still achieve a good quality and quantity of life.
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