Symptoms and causes of COPD

1) Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is not simply one disease, but a term used for two diseases that are often co-existing, emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

2) COPD is not curable and usually not reversible. Instead of getting better, it progressively gets worse with time.

3) COPD can also be known as CORD (chronic obstructive respiratory disease), COLD (chronic obstructive lung disease), CAL (chronic airflow limitation), and COAD (chronic obstructive airway disease), though it is most often referred to as COPD.

4) COPD is most often caused by tobacco smoking. It can also be caused by occupational hazards such as welding and coal mining, indoor and outdoor air pollution, and genetics, although 80-90 percent of COPD cases are caused by smoking cigarettes.

5) It is uncommon for COPD to be diagnosed in someone under the age of 40 years old.

6) Pulmonary Function Tests (PFTs), such as the Spirometry, can help diagnose the disease by measuring the speed and flow of air during inhalation and exhalation. An X-ray may also be used to show an affected lung or to rule out other diseases.

7) The symptoms of COPD are shortness of breath (dyspnea), cough, fatigue, wheezing, chest tightness, and mucous production. Air pollution and infections can cause sudden sustained worsening of symptoms, called acute exacerbations.

8) In 1990 COPD was the sixth leading cause of death worldwide; it is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.

9) Since there is no cure, management techniques such as drug therapy, vaccinations, and smoking cessation or employed to help those suffering with the disease. Many patients will eventually need a long-term oxygen therapy and/or lung transplant.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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