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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of lung conditions that make airflow in and out of the lungs difficult due to narrowing of the airways (bronchi). In COPD, the bronchi and alveolar lose their shape and elasticity. This results in less air getting in and out of the lungs.
It is a non-communicable disease and is typically characterized by long-term breathing problems and cough with sputum production.COPD is a progressive disease which means that it progresses over time. In the long-term, it makes everyday activities like walking or getting dressed difficult. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are common variants of COPD.
Tobacco smoking (including secondary smoke) is the most common factor for COPD. However, the rising air pollution is also emerging as an important factor. In countries like India, indoor pollution caused by biomass (wood, coal and charcoal) burning is also a factor affecting COPD.
People working in very dusty or smoky environment such as coal mines, cement industries, textile, construction sites etc. are also at high risk of COPD. Thus, long-term exposure to smoke or dust of any kind irritants can cause an inflammatory response in the lungs, resulting in narrowing of the small airways and breakdown of lung tissue.
Prevention of COPD includes avoiding tobacco smoke and improving indoor and outdoor air quality. Switching to cleaner fuels at home such as LPG can also reduce the chances of COPD, especially in women, to a great extent.