Pulmonary Disease: What Is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is most commonly known as COPD. COPD primarily comprises of three types of lung diseases that makes breathing difficult due to blockage in the airflow.
The three types of lung diseases are chronic bronchitis, chronic asthma and emphysema. In all three problems there exists a chronic obstruction of the air flow through the airways and out of the lungs. The obstruction usually is permanent and it may get worst as time passes by.
The only difference between COPD and asthma is, in asthma there exists obstructions to the flow of air out of the lungs. This obstruction is usually reversible. Between "attacks" of asthma the flow of air through the airways typically is normal. These types of patients do not have COPD. But, if this is untreated for a long time, the chronic inflammation can make the airway obstruction permanent. This process is referred to as lung remodeling. Asthma patients who show permanent airway obstruction can also be considered as COPD patients.
COPD patients are often classified by the symptoms they primarily notice. If a person is experiencing shortness of breath it may be referred to as emphysema. It is preferable to refer to these patients as having COPD, as they can experience a variety of lung symptoms as well.
The most common symptoms of COPD are breathlessness, excessive sputum production, and a chronic cough. However, COPD is more than a "smoker's cough". Hence it is necessary to give it a timely treatment, because it is a life threatening lung disease that can even lead to death.
How The Obstruction Occurs In COPD Patients?
Lung tissue is destroyed, in patients with COPD. Due to this destruction, there is loss of elasticity and the bronchioles (these small branches help the air to move in and out of the lungs) can collapse and obstruct the flow of air. In COPD patients with emphysema, the lung tissues looks like an old sponge with large irregular holes and loss of spring and elasticity.
Related Article: Pulmonary Disease; All About COPD
*Images courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images
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