Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD for short, is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Millions of people have been diagnosed with COPD, and even more may have it and have not yet been diagnosed. It affects both men and women, and occurs most often in middle-aged and older adults.
COPD is a major cause of disability in its most severe stages, but it typically develops slowly over time. Symptoms, which include a chronic cough, chest tightness, wheezing and shortness of breath with activity, may be mild at first, but worsen as airways become more and more damaged. Eventually, symptoms begin to interfere with the activities of daily living, such as walking, cooking and even personal care.
COPD is not contagious, but there is no cure. Lung damage cannot be reversed, even with treatment, but the progression of the disease can be slowed with the proper care and lifestyle changes. This will allow you to feel better and stay more active.
Chronic bronchitis is a lung disease that causes a cough with increased mucus production for at least three months in two consecutive years. It generally falls under the category of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.
The most common cause is cigarette smoking, although the inhalation of irritants at work, air pollution and lung infections may also cause it. Considering most people develop this disease due to exposure to cigarette smoke, one might wonder: Why does smoking cause chronic bronchitis?
To best answer this question it’s helpful to understand the basics of airway anatomy, which is covered in the pithy post “ Your Journey Down the Respiratory Tract .” Knowledge of lung anatomy is helpful because long-term exposure to inhaled cigarette smoke may cause changes inside the airways. These changes may include:
1. Bronchial mucous glands become bigger : This causes increased mucus or secretion production...
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