In this study session you have learned that:

  1. COPD is an increasingly common progressive respiratory disease; it mainly affects people after the age of about 40 years.
  2. COPD has two main components – chronic bronchitis and emphysema – which, over time, cause permanent irreversible damage to the lungs. The main symptoms are a persistent cough, excessive production of mucus in the lungs, shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness. COPD makes respiratory infections more likely.
  3. Smoking tobacco is the main risk factor for COPD, as well as inhaling second-hand smoke, air pollution, chemical fumes and dust from the environment or workplace, and indoor smoke from cooking fires. Stopping (or not ever) smoking and avoiding air pollution is the primary way to prevent COPD.
  4. Bronchial asthma is a common lung condition, in which narrowing of the airways can happen suddenly in response to inhaling an allergen, such as house dust mite, pollen or animal hairs; inducing factors that can make an attack worse are industrial pollution, respiratory infections, cigarette smoking and emotional stress.
  5. The symptoms of asthma are similar to those of COPD, but they are reversible if the correct medicine is inhaled. Another difference is that asthma is much more common than COPD among younger people; it is the commonest chronic condition in children worldwide.
  6. The effects of COPD and asthma on people’s lives share some common features, such as breathlessness restricting physical and social activities. People with advanced COPD may be unable to work or live independent lives, or walk even a few steps without becoming dangerously short of oxygen. People with asthma are often anxious about the sudden onset of an attack and they may avoid going to places where they may be exposed to an inducing factor or an allergen.
Last modified: Wednesday, 2 July 2014, 9:56 AM