One of the major causes of death worldwide and in the United States that is rarely mentioned is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, shortly known as COPD. It is the third cause of mortality in the United States and a significant cause of long-term illness and disability. In this article, we will discuss how COPD occurs, its symptoms, diagnosis, and how it is managed.
How COPD occurs
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a disease of the lung and is caused by inflammation and destruction of elastic tissue in the lung. It is a clinical syndrome, which means that it covers symptoms of multiple diseases that occur independently of each other. This inflammation occurs in people who are predisposed by genetics to have the disease and in response to toxic exposure to certain smoke and toxins.
Overall, the most well studied and well-known risk factor of COPD is smoking. Cigarette smoking causes certain cells of the body found in the lung to release chemical substances that destroy tissue of the lung and cause obstruction of the airways. It is also seen in exposure to secondhand smoke and even environmental pollutants as in workers in factories which produce chemical smoke. Up to fifth of all smokers develop COPD at some point in their lives.
People with diseases of their connective tissues like Marfan and Ehler Danlos syndromes have a higher risk of developing COPD as well as those with suppressed immunity as in patients suffering from AIDS.