Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an obstructive lung disease featured by long term poor airflow. It is a progressive disease, which means it continues to get worse with passing time. It is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory asthma, and bronchiectasis. It is characterized by breathlessness and cough with sputum production. COPD affected 2.4% of worldwide population and caused 2.5 million death in 2015. About 90% of deaths occur in developing countries due to high smoking rate and increased pollution.
Causes and Risk Factors of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
The major cause of COPD is tobacco smoking along with other factors such as air pollution and genetic factors. In developing countries, poorly ventilated cooking fires, which are fuelled by biomass fuel or coal are major source of COPD. Continuous exposure to these irritants induce inflammatory response in lungs, resulting in narrowing of small airways and breakdown of lung tissues. Workers of coal mines, gold mines, cotton textile industry, industries dealing chromium and isocyanates, and welders are high risk groups. Poverty, malnutrition, air pollution, low birth weight and respiratory diseases are other factors contributing to development of COPD. Genetic disease involving deficiency of alpha 1antitrypsin enzymes is responsible for 1-5% cases of COPD.
Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
The most common signs of COPD are shortness of breath, sputum production and productive cough which begin slowly, are present for a prolonged time and worsen over time. Cough (caused by production of mucus), and wheezing are other symptoms. Additional signs may include production of sputum, wheezing, weight loss, fatigue, anxiety, depression, sleep problems, morning headaches, blueness of lips and frequent lung infections. Advanced COPD can lead to high pressure on lung arteries, which strains the right ventricle of heart. It can cause leg swelling and bulging neck veins. It can also occur with other conditions such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and anxiety disorder and lung cancer.