COPD Symptoms and Causes
COPD is a progressive disease whose symptom does not show immediately. COPD symptoms often show after sever damage has already been done to the lungs, and they get worse overtime, especially if there is continuous exposure to smoke. The major symptoms associated with this disease include daily cough and mucus (sputum) production at least three months a year for two consecutive years.
Other symptoms of this disease include:
- Shortness of breath, especially during heavy physical activities
- Chest tightness
- Excess mucus in your lungs
- Chronic cough
- Blueness of the lips or fingernail beds (cyanosis)
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Lack of energy
- Unintended weight loss (in later stages)
- Swelling in ankles, feet or legs
People with COPD also experience a situation known as exacerbations, were their symptoms become worse than the usual variation and persist for some days.
Causes of COPD:
The major cause of COPD is tobacco smoking. However, it is worth knowing that COPD can be caused by other factors such as genetic disorder which is also known as Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, exposure to fumes from burning fuel for cooking and heating in poorly ventilated homes.
You should also know that only 20-30% of smokers will develop COPD, although most smokers with a long history of smoking may develop reduced respiratory functions.
How does COPD Affect the Lungs?
The lungs make use of the natural elasticity of the bronchial tubes and air sacs to push air out of your body. When a person develops COPD, these tubes and air sacs lose their elasticity, causing them to over-expand, which leaves some air trapped in your lungs when you exhale.
Causes of Airway Obstruction
Airway obstruction is cause primarily by to factors. They include:
- This lung disease causes the breakdown of the fragile walls and elastic fibers of the alveoli. Hence, the small airways collapse when you exhale, obstructing airflow out of your lungs.
- Chronic bronchitis. When this occurs, your bronchial tubes become inflamed and narrowed, causing your lungs to produce more mucus, which can further block the narrowed tubes. This is the major reason for your chronic cough as you try to clear the airways.
The Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency
This is an uncommon cause of COPD among patients. Here, COPD is caused by the inadequacy of a protein called alpha-1-antitrypsin. Alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAt) is made in the liver and secreted into the bloodstream to help protect the lungs.
Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency can have negative impact on both the liver and the lungs. Damage to the lung can occur in infants and children, not only adults with long smoking histories.
Risk Factors for COPD:
Some common risk factors for patients of COPD include:
- People with Asthma Who Smoke
- Exposure to Tobacco Smoke
- Exposure to dust and Chemicals
- Exposure to fumes and burning fuel.
Patients who suffer COPD are likely to face one or more of the following complications:
- Respiratory Infections
- Lung Cancer
- Heart Problem
- High Blood Pressure (especially in the lung arteries)
Fighting COPD can be very complicated. However, with the guidance of your doctor and some lifestyle changes, you should be able to have a more active lifestyle.