What causes COPD?
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, is a result of long-term exposure to lung irritants. This exposure causes damage to the lungs that leads to bronchitis-like symptoms and blocked airways. Most commonly, COPD is caused by smoke—whether it is a cigarette, cigar, tobacco, second hand, air pollution, or other fumes. Though COPD is usually found in smokers, it is also possible to be afflicted with COPD even if you’ve never smoked or had extended exposure to harmful air, though it is much less common. The lung damage that leads to COPD is treatable but not curable. The best way to avoid a life with COPD is to avoid smoke and other lung irritants.
What are the early warning signs?
Symptoms for COPD are similar to bronchitis and often don’t appear until lung damage has already occurred. Sign and symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, chronic cough, blueness in the lips or fingernail beds, lack of energy, swollen ankles, respiratory infections, having to clear your throat often and usually in the morning. If these symptoms seem to worsen or occur for at least a few months over two consecutive years, see a doctor about the possibility of COPD.
What are the triggers for COPD?
The symptoms of COPD can be triggered or worsened by exposure to smoke or any other substance that is capable of damaging your lungs and blocking your airways. Anything that is capable of causing the damage of COPD in the first place is also capable of irritating or worsening it. Secondhand smoke is the most common trigger. Others include air pollution, vehicle exhaust, and gas fumes. If you have COPD avoid any prolonged exposure to harmful air to prevent symptoms from worsening and causing more damage to the lungs.