November 18—that’s tomorrow!—marks World COPD Day, a day to raise awareness about the disease. But many people might not know what exactly COPD is and what it means for patients.
COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is a progressive lung disease that makes it hard to breathe and is caused by damage to the lungs over many years. The two main components of COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
In chronic bronchitis, the airways that carry air to the lungs get inflamed and make a lot of mucus. This blocks the airways and makes it hard for you to breathe. In emphysema, the tiny air sacs in the lungs are damaged and lose their stretch. Less air gets in and out of the lungs and you feel short of breath.
Common signs and symptoms of COPD include a long-lasting chronic cough, coughing with mucus, shortness of breath, wheezing and fatigue. As the disease progresses, these COPD symptoms may become worse.
COPD is usually caused by smoking. But other external factors such as exposure to air pollution, secondhand smoke, and occupational dust or chemicals can also increase a person's risk. It cannot be reversed, but the best way to slow COPD is to quit smoking. Quitting smoking can help slowdown the damage to your lungs.
A few ways you can help reduce the symptoms of CODP are: Keep your home clean and free from dust. Avoid air pollution and second hand smoke. Keep your distance from anyone who has the flu, a cold, or a sore throat. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water to help protect against infection.
COPD is a progressive disease and gets worse over time. The sooner you're diagnosed, the better. The right treatments can help you feel better on a day-to-day basis, improve your level of activity, slow the progression of COPD, and help your breathing.
Here, we put together a short informative video about COPD: