Natural Health Nexis
This nhn COPD Guide includes information about Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease that is written primarily to help COPD Patients better understand their condition and the range of COPD treatment options that are currently available:
According to the Mayo Clinic COPD primarily refers to obstruction in the airways and lungs caused by Chronic Bronchitis and/or Emphysema - with many COPD patients suffering from both of these conditions.
Chronic Bronchitis is associated with recurring inflammation and narrowing of the trachea, bronchi and bronchioles that conduct airflow into and out of the lungs. This reduces airflow and also increases mucus production, which can act to further block these already narrowed respiratory tubes. Chronic Bronchitis typically causes coughing (the natural body action to clear excess mucus) and/or wheezing.
Emphysema is associated with damage to the alveoli, which are the microscopic clusters of air sacs within the lungs where gaseous exchange between the lungs and the blood circulatory system occurs. Emphysema is the condition when the inner walls of the alveoli are gradually destroyed, which decreases the body's ability to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. Additionally, the alveoli walls lose their strength and elasticity causing them to collapse during exhalation. Since Emphysema patients have to work harder to breathe, they usually experience considerable shortness of breath, especially when exercising.
The root cause of both of these diseases is typically exposure to airborne irritants, including Tobacco Smoke, Dusts, Chemical Fumes, and Air Pollution. The US Dept. of Health & Human Services National Institutes of Health (NIH) point out that most cases of COPD are caused by long-term exposure to these irritants.
In the US, inhalation of cigarette smoke is the most common cause of COPD. It should be clearly understood that any inhalation of Tobacco Smoke (including Cigar or Pipe smoke) or Marijuana Smoke, can cause COPD, but since most smokers use cigarettes, these are associated with the greatest incidence of COPD Symptoms. Breathing in airborne smoke from other people smoking (second-hand smoking) can also be a cause of COPD.
COPD is common amongst many people who have experienced long-term exposure to essentially any airborne irritants of the respiratory pathways, either occupationally or in the domestic environment.
In rare cases, a genetic condition called Alpha-1 AntiTrypsin Deficiency may play an additional role in causing COPD. Alpha-1 AntiTrypsin (A1AT) is a natural protein made in the liver, and a statistical link has been drawn between people who produce low levels of A1AT and increased occurrence of COPD. It seems that the combination of reduced levels of A1AT and exposure to smoke or other lung irritants can cause aggressively worsening COPD symptoms. More About A1AT Deficiency & Emphysema Pathophysiology
COPD Signs & Symptoms
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