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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Doctor encouraging patient.

It is estimated that 210 million people around the world have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).1 COPD is a lung disease where the airways become narrowed. The most common symptoms of COPD are breathlessness, abnormal sputum (a mix of saliva and mucus in the airway), and a chronic cough. COPD develops slowly and for this reason often goes undiagnosed for a long period of time.

A COPD patient will often have shortness of breath and will only be able to take small shallow breaths; “like breathing through a straw” because:

  • the airways and air sacs in the lungs lose their shape and stretchiness
  • the walls between many of the air sacs are destroyed
  • the walls of the airways become thick and swollen
  • cells in the airways make more mucus than usual, which blocks the airways

The primary cause of COPD is tobacco smoke – attributing for 80-90% of the incidences.2 Other risks factors include: indoor air pollution, outdoor air pollution, occupational dusts and chemicals and frequent lower respiratory infections during childhood.3 COPD is not curable but treatment can slow the progress of the disease.

For more information about COPD please talk to your healthcare professional.

1. World Health Organization, COPD Fact Sheet (No 315) 2. American Lung Association, About COPD 3. World Health Organization, COPD Fact Sheet (No 315)

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