What is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe. It is characterized by a progressive decline in lung function and is usually caused by long-term exposure to irritants such as cigarette smoke, air pollution, and chemical fumes. The most usual form of COPD is emphysema and chronic bronchitis. In emphysema, the walls between the air sacs in the lungs are damaged, making it difficult for the lungs to expand fully. In chronic bronchitis, the airways in the lungs are inflamed and narrowed, making it difficult for air to flow in and out of the lungs.
Symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness. These symptoms tend to be worse with physical activity and improve with rest. COPD can also cause other health problems such as heart disease, lung infections, and sleep apnea.
COPD is typically diagnosed through a combination of a physical examination, lung function tests, and imaging tests. Treatment for COPD includes medications such as bronchodilators and corticosteroids, as well as lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, avoiding triggers, and getting regular exercise. In some cases, surgery may be recommended. It is a chronic disease that requires ongoing management.

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