What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)?
COPD is a progressive disease where the air sacs and tubes going into the lungs are damaged making it harder to breathe. The condition encompasses both Emphysema where the air sacs are destroyed and chronic bronchitis where the tubes are damaged and inflamed.
What causes COPD?
Inhaling noxious substances leads to COPD. Smoking or passive smoking is the commonest cause but certain workers or people exposed to excessive indoor or outdoor pollution can also be affected. Some smokers seem able to repair their lungs whilst others are more susceptible to long term damage.
Do I have COPD?
The diagnosis depends on your symptoms which often include getting out of breath when walking upstairs or doing simple household tasks. There is often a persistent cough and sometimes wheeze. Getting frequent winter chest infections can also be a tell tale sign.
You will be asked a number of questions including your own smoking history together with passive smoking exposure and any occupational exposures. Breathing tests will be performed and also a Chest Xray.
Can COPD be treated?
The answer is yes. The condition is not usually reversible but stopping smoking, exercise and inhaler therapy can all make a big difference. You will need to get a Pneumonia vaccination and also an annual flu jab.