What is Pulmonary emphysema?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), also known as chronic obstructive lung disease (COLD), and chronic obstructive airway disease (COAD), among others, is a type of obstructive lung disease characterized by chronically poor airflow. It typically worsens over time. The main symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, and sputum production. Most people with chronic bronchitis have COPD.
Tobacco smoking is the most common cause of COPD, with a number of other factors such as air pollution and genetics playing a smaller role. In the developing world, one of the common sources of air pollution is from poorly vented cooking and heating fires. Long-term exposure to these irritants causes an inflammatory response in the lungs resulting in narrowing of the small airways and breakdown of lung tissue known as emphysema. The diagnosis is based on poor airflow as measured by lung function tests. In contrast to asthma, the airflow reduction does not improve significantly with the administration of medication.
COPD can be prevented by reducing exposure to the known causes. This includes efforts to decrease rates of smoking and to improve indoor and outdoor air quality. COPD treatments include quitting smoking, vaccinations, rehabilitation, and often inhaled bronchodilators and steroids. Some people may benefit from long-term oxygen therapy or lung transplantation. In those who have periods of acute worsening, increased use of medications and hospitalization may be needed.
Worldwide, COPD affects 329 million people or nearly 5% of the population. In 2013, it resulted in 2.9 million deaths up from 2.4 million deaths in 1990. The number of deaths is projected to increase due to higher smoking rates and an aging population in many countries. It resulted in an estimated economic cost of $2.1 trillion in 2010.