If you're a smoker – you run a risk of developing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Smoking carries with it numerous risks to your health, and not surprisingly your lungs are in the front line when it comes to parts of your body that may not be able to cope.
The more you smoke and the longer you smoke, the more likely you are to contract COPD. It's a grim disease to endure, and it also takes the lives of 25,000 people every year. Bronchitis and emphysema are common types of COPD.
They're serious, long-term lung diseases in which the flow of air into the lungs is gradually reduced by inflammation of the air passages and damage to the lung tissue.
Over many years, the inflammation leads to permanent changes in the lung. The walls of the airways thicken and more mucus is produced. Damage to the delicate walls of the air sacs in the lungs causes emphysema and the lungs lose their normal elasticity.
80% of COPD cases comes from smoking
At least four out of five people who develop the disease are, or have been, smokers. The lining of their airways becomes inflamed and permanently damaged. There can be other causes as well, such as exposure to certain types of dust and chemicals, including grains, cadmium and coal, and air pollution.
Common COPD symptoms
Typically, sufferers don't notice any symptoms of COPD until they're around 35 or more. But then they can start to become increasingly breathless when exercising or simply everyday moving around. They may develop a cough, often with phlegm, that never seems to go away, and chest infections become frequent.
Symptoms are often worse in winter, and it is common to have two or more flare-ups a year. A flare-up (also known as an 'exacerbation') is when your symptoms are particularly bad. This is one of the most common reasons for people being admitted to hospital in the UK.
How to reduce the likelihood of COPD
Stop smoking. Now and for good. You'll then have taken a major step towards avoiding COPD - and you'll be doing the right thing by your friends and family as well, because passive smoking is also a known cause of the disease. At the same time, start taking some gentle exercise. Nothing Olympian, but just a slowly building habit that gives your lungs a good workout.
If you can improve your diet, even better, because your body will turn the vitamins and minerals you get from fresh fruit and vegetables into antioxidants that ward off inflammation of the airways.
For further information please call 0808 101 0337 or
make an online enquiry.