What is COPD?
COPD is also known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and is a progressive lung disease that brings about damage to the lungs, creating difficulty of breathing. In people with COPD, the airways of the lungs are partially blocked so that air cannot easily pass to and from the lungs. When untreated, this condition can cause death and debilitation.
COPD is not a transmissible disease and may result from breathing in fumes and other things that irritate the lungs. There are some factors that can predispose you to have COPD such as smoking, environmental exposure, and genetic factors. Cigarette smoking is the most common cause of COPD. It may be active or passive or secondhand smoke. Environmental exposure can also trigger COPD. Long-term exposure to chemical fumes, environmental dust, secondhand smoke and other air pollutants may cause COPD. In some people, COPD may be caused by a genetic condition known as alpha-1 antitrypsin, or AAT, deficiency. People who have this condition have low levels of alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT)a protein made in the liver. Having a low level of the AAT protein can lead to lung damage and COPD especially upon exposure to smoke and other air pollutants.
COPD can also develop in people with asthma. Asthma is a chronic (long-term) lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. Treatment usually can reverse the inflammation and narrowing. However, if not, COPD can develop.
COPD can present with symptoms such as a cough that does not go away and coughing up lots of sputum (mucus). These symptoms can develop gradually over the next few years as a result of airflow obstruction in the lungs. Other symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath while doing activities you used to be able to do, wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe) and tightness in the chest.
COPD is diagnosed by a physician based on medical and family histories and physical examination. Spirometry is a breathing test used to show how much air you can breathe out and measures how fast you can breathe it out. Based on this test, the doctor can determine the severity of COPD. Severity is divided into four types: people at risk for COPD, people with mild COPD, people with moderate COPD and people with severe COPD. People at risk for developing COPD have a normal breathing test and mild symptoms such as chronic cough and sputum (mucus) production. People with mild COPD have mild breathing limitation with symptoms such as a chronic cough and sputum (mucus) production. People with moderate COPD have a breathing test that shows worsening airflow blockages with symptoms may be worse than with mild COPD and shortness of breath while working hard, walking fast, or doing brisk activity. People with severe COPD have a breathing test that shows severe limitation of the airflow with shortness of breath after just a little activity. In very severe COPD, complications like respiratory failure or signs of heart failure may develop, which may be life-threatening.
COPD Can Be Triggered By Obesity and Large Waist Size
A recent study shows that obesity especially that with excessive belly fat is a risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This study is published in the CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal). In this study made by researchers from Germany and the United States, the the relationship of waist and hip circumference, body mass index (BMI) and physical activity levels to new cases of COPD in a large group of men and women in the US were examined. Data gathered from 113 279 people between the ages of 50 and 70 years who did not have COPD, cancer or heart disease at the beginning of the study. The researchers found out that during the 10-year follow-up period, COPD developed in 3648 people. People with large waist circumference (110 cm or over in women and 118 cm or over in men) have a 72% increased risk of COPD. The researchers think that lack of exercise can trigger inflammation which can further lead to the development of COPD.
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