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COPDPart 1: An Overview.

>> Wednesday, April 8, 2009

This post (or series as it is turning out to be) is dedicated to Wendy.

What is COPD?
COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is actually an umbrella term that refers to a group of lung diseases that block the airways in the lungs. Since these disease block airways and airflow, the simple act of breathing becomes increasingly difficult. The most common of these diseases are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. The word chronic means "long-term" and treatment for COPD is usually just to control and minimize the symptoms, not reverse the damage to your lungs.

What is emphysema?
It is a lung disease that causes damage to the air sacs in your lungs. The most common cause is smoking and the damage gets progressively worse over time. Persons with air sacs that are diseased cannot fill their lungs with fresh air, therefor limiting the bodies supply of oxygen. Common symptoms are chronic coughing that does not produce mucus, wheezing, swelling around ankles, and wight loss.

What is chronic bronchitis?
This lung disease actually causes an inflammation of the main airways in your lungs. Smoking causes it and allergies, secondhand smoke, and air pollution make it worse. Some symptoms are coughing with mucus, wheezing, fatigue, and ankle and foot swelling. There is no cure for chronic bronchitis.

The next post in the series will be about how the lungs work to give you a better understanding of how COPD can affect your life.


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