Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a term used for a collection of problems in the lungs including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It leads to damaged airways in the lungs causing them to become narrow and making it harder for air to get in and out of the lungs. The word 'Chronic' obviously means long term. There is no cure for COPD. The most common cause of COPD is smoking. Quitting smoking will cut the chances of you getting it, or, if you already have symptoms of it, quitting will slow down its progress. Other causes are occupational in nature, such as working with coal dust and in some cases it can be inherited. Whether pollution is a factor is yet to be proven. Cough, phlegm and shortness of breath are some signs of COPD; some people notice these symptoms in winter, or they may mistake it for a 'smokers cough.' This means that they will not seek help at the earliest stage of the disease. The sooner help is sought, the better. COPD is diagnosed through spirometry. This is usually done in the GP's surgery. If further tests are required, you will be referred to the hospital. COPD leads to emphysema, a chronic and disabling condition. The best way to prevent this is to stop smoking.
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