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Chronic lower respiratory diseases
Chronic lower respiratory diseases are diseases that affect the lungs. The most deadly of these is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which makes it hard to breathe. COPD includes two main illnesses:
- Emphysema (em-fuh-ZEE-muh) — If you have emphysema, some of the air sacs in your lungs are damaged, making it hard for your body to get the oxygen it needs.
- Chronic bronchitis (brong-KEYE-tuhss) — If you have chronic bronchitis, the lining of the lungs' airways are red and swollen. Over time, the airways become narrow and partly clogged with mucus that cannot be cleared.
Cigarette smoking is the main cause of COPD. If you smoke, you are 12 times as likely to die of COPD as men who have never smoked. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis also are strongly associated with lung cancer.
Most cases of COPD are preventable. Take these steps:
- Don't smoke.
- Avoid secondhand smoke.
- Avoid irritants that may contribute to COPD, like chemical fumes, air pollution, and dust.
Damage to the lungs caused by COPD cannot be repaired. If the disease is found early, though, it might be possible to slow it down. If you have symptoms like shortness of breath, an ongoing cough, or chest tightness, your doctor can give you a simple test for COPD.
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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) (Copyright © National Jewish Health) - This website will help you learn the basics of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and provide you with information about the strategies used to treat and cope with COPD.
COPD Learn More Breathe Better Campaign - This website focuses on the risk factors of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, underscores the benefits of early detection, and addresses treatments that slow down the disease.
FastStats: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease - This publication provides statistical information on illness and death caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the United States. It also provides a summary of health care use by patients with COPD.
Nutritional Guidelines for People With COPD (Copyright © Cleveland Clinic Foundation) - This article provides basic information to help patients with COPD make healthy food choices. Changing eating habits will not cure COPD, but doing so can help people with COPD feel better.
What Is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)? - This publication provides in-depth information on how the lungs work, and how chronic bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia, and COPD can affect lung health. It also provides information on treatment and research information.
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Content last updated January 10, 2011.
Resources last updated January 10, 2011.
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