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COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, embraces two recurring lung conditions: emphysema and chronic bronchitis. As mucus builds up or swelling of the airways occurs, it results in little air going in and out of the lungs. In addition, this condition may lead to the loss of elasticity of the air sacs, leading to their collapse. This respiratory disorder causes breathing difficulties.

Tobacco smoking is the most common reason why one develops COPD. Other causes include exposure to secondhand smoke, dust, chemicals and air pollution. Family history and deficiency in alpha 1 antitrypsin protein are also contributing factors for COPD.

How can one tell if he or she has COPD? Here are the common symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
  • Wheezing
  • Tightness of the chest
  • Recurring cough, or one that doesn't seem to go away
  • Lots of mucus during coughing

Physical exams, breathing tests and checking the medical history of the patient are necessary for a thorough diagnosis of COPD. To rule out other respiratory disorders, additional tests may be required.



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UpToDate Medical Library

Welcome to our UpToDate library. The information shared below is provided to you as an educational and informational source only and is not intended to replace a medical examination or consultation, or medical advice given to you by a physician or medical professional.

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Map and driving directions
Map and driving directions
Map and driving directions