It is usually related to lifelong smoking
-related lung damage
, but can in rarer cases be caused by other lung diseases
. One of the main problems in COPD is chronic narrowing of the airways that hinders the airflow in and out of the lungs during breathing. Additionally, damaged lung tissue contributes to impaired gas exchange resulting eventually in poor oxygenation and reduced ability of our lungs to increase their capacity with exercise
. The "obstructive" part of the name in COPD really refers to the fact that airflow in and out of the lungs is not normal, and with simple measurements we can detect if there is "obstruction" to airflow.
COPD is primarily treated by stopping the underlying cause, which is in most cases is smoking cigarettes. There are medicines, most commonly inhaled medications such as albuterol
) which help to "dilate" or open up narrowed airways making it much easier to breathe. Other medications that can help in preventing or treating COPD exacerbations, or worsening of symptoms, include inhaled or oral corticosteroids
. Other treatments exist for more severe forms of copd, which you should talk to your pulmonologist about.