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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
By Andrew Buscaglia
Pulmonary function test
Arterial blood gas
Smoking is the Leading cause of Emphysema
Cigarette smoke is by far the most common cause of
(1) There are more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco
smoke, including secondhand smoke.
These chemical irritants slowly destroy the small
peripheral airways, the elastic air sacs and their
supporting elastic fibers.
(1) Approximately 1 to 2 percent of people with
emphysema have an inherited deficiency of a protein
called AAt, which protects the elastic structures in the
Without this protein, enzymes can cause progressive lung
damage, eventually resulting in emphysema.
If you're a smoker with a lack of AAt, emphysema can
begin in your 30s and 40s.
The progression and severity of the disease are greatly
accelerated by smoking.
Is It Transmitted
This disease is not Transmitted because it is caused
Who does it target
Adults that smoke for a long time would get
Males and females that get the disease have been
smoking for a long time or are exposed to 2nd hand
smoke for a long time.
Emphysema symptoms are mild to begin with but steadily get worse as the
disease progresses. The main emphysema symptoms are:
* Shortness of breath
* Chest tightness
* Reduced capacity for physical activity
* Chronic coughing, which could also indicate chronic bronchitis
* Loss of appetite and weight
When to see a doctor
* You tire quickly, or you can't easily do the things you used to do
* productive chronic cough
* You can't breathe well enough to tolerate even moderate exercise
* Your breathing difficulty worsens when you have a cold
* Your lips or fingernails are blue or gray, indicating low oxygen in your
* You frequently cough up yellow or greenish sputum
* You note that bending over to tie your shoes makes you short of breath
* You are losing weight
Emphysema is most likely to develop in cigarette smokers, but cigar and
pipe smokers also are susceptible, and the risk for all types of smokers
increases with the number of years and amount of tobacco smoked.
Although the lung damage that occurs in emphysema develops gradually,
most people with tobacco-related emphysema begin to experience
symptoms of the disease between the ages of 40 and 60.
Exposure to secondhand smoke
Secondhand smoke, also known as passive or environmental tobacco
smoke, is smoke that you inadvertently inhale from someone else's
cigarette, pipe or cigar. Being around secondhand smoke increases your
risk of emphysema.
Risk factors cont.
Occupational exposure to fumes or dust. If you
breathe fumes from certain chemicals or dust from
grain, cotton, wood or mining products, you're more
likely to develop emphysema. This risk is even
greater if you smoke.
Exposure to indoor and outdoor pollution. Breathing
indoor pollutants, such as fumes from heating fuel,
as well as outdoor pollutants — car exhaust, for
instance — increases your risk of emphysema.
Emphysema can increase the severity of other
chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart
If you have emphysema, air pollution or a respiratory
infection can lead to an acute COPD exacerbation,
with extreme shortness of breath and dangerously
low oxygen levels.
You may need admission to an intensive care unit and
temporary support from an artificial breathing
machine (ventilator) until the infection clears.
The most important step in any treatment plan for smokers with
emphysema is to stop smoking; it's the only way to stop the damage to
your lungs from becoming worse. But quitting is never easy, and people
often need the help of a comprehensive smoking cessation plan, which may
A target date to quit
Advice for healthy lifestyle changes
Social support systems
(2) Medications, such as nicotine gum or patches and the prescription
medications bupropion hydrochloride (Zyban) and varenicline (Chantix)
Medications that dilate the bronchioles dilate
airways and improve breathing
Inhaled or oral steroids reduce lung inflammation.
Supplemental oxygen if you have severe emphysema
with low blood oxygen levels, using oxygen regularly
at home improves blood oxygen saturations
Pulmonary rehabilitation program a key part of
treatment that involves a pulmonary rehabilitation
program, which combines education and exercise
Antibiotics if you develop a bacterial infection like
bronchitis or pneumonia, antibiotics are appropriate.
Inoculations against influenza and pneumonia.
Surgical procedure called lung volume reduction surgery
In another surgery, called a bullectomy, doctors remove
one or more of the large air spaces that form when the
small air sacs are destroyed.
Transplant. Lung transplantation is an option if you have
severe emphysema and other options have failed.
Can it be prevented
Emphysema can be prevented by not smoking or
spending to much time around 2nd hand smoke.