What is COPD?iStock/Alen-D
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 11 million American adults have been diagnosed with chronic bronchitis (8.7 million) or emphysema (3.4 million), both of which fall under the category of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD. The COPD Foundation has reported the illness affects as many as 24 million Americans. Smoking is the most common cause of COPD in the United States, followed by exposure to occupational toxins, and a very small percentage of people have a genetic predisposition to the disease. What is COPD? It’s an inflammatory condition of the airways that results in obstruction of airflow, says Umur Hatipoglu, MD, and medical director of the Center for Comprehensive Care for COPD at the Respiratory Institute at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Here’s how your body heals itself after you quit smoking.
COPD symptom: Chronic coughiStock/hoozone
Chronic cough is one of the most common signs of COPD. Bhaven Shah, MD, pulmonary critical care specialist at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois says doctors define chronic bronchitis as a persistent cough lasting three months per year for at least two years. The cough results from swelling and inflammation in the airways. “The cough comes on slowly and can be a productive cough,” says Brian Stein, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Sputum, which is a mixture of saliva and mucus, is associated with a productive cough that can be common in COPD patients. “Often the persistent cough is worse in the morning, but can get worse throughout the day,” he says.