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COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is used for a number of conditions including chronic bronchitis and emphysema, which all lead to the airways in the lungs becoming damaged and thus narrower, making inhalation and exhalation harder.
The most common cause of COPD is smoking. Upon giving up, disease progression slows, or chances of getting it are reduced. Other causes are occupational factors, such as coal dust, and some inherited problems. Pollution as a risk factor is under investigation.
Cough, phlegm and shortness of breath can be symptoms of COPD.
COPD cannot be cured, but there are options for alleviating the symptoms. These include lifestyle changes (such as stopping smoking and changing diets) and medications such as bronchodilators, nebulisers, steroids or antibiotics. Flu vaccination may also be given, and flu can exacerbate the symptoms. In severe cases, the obstruction in lungs may reduce the oxygen content of the blood, in which case, oxygen tanks and breathing tubes can be used.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that COPD as a single cause of death shares 4th and 5th places with HIV/AIDS (after coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and acute respiratory infection).
Source; Adapted from The British Lung Foundation