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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

What is COPD?
How common is COPD?
What causes COPD?
What are the symptoms of COPD?
Who should be screened for COPD?
What can I do about COPD?
If I’ve been diagnosed with COPD, what can I do to cope?
How is smog formed?
What can I do to reduce smog and promote better air quality?
How prevalent is COPD in Kentucky?
Where can I look for more information on COPD?

What is COPD?
COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, includes diseases such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis and asthma. These cause air movement through the lungs to be slowed by obstructions.

Chronic bronchitis causes obstruction through inflammation and scarring of the lining of the bronchial tubes.

Emphysema results when the air sacs in the lungs lose their ability to stretch and recoil, so that air becomes trapped in the lung's air sacs. Airway support is also lost resulting in obstruction of airflow.

In asthma, inflammation and narrowing of the airways cause obstruction of airflow. Although narrowing of airways from asthma is reversible, repeated and prolonged attacks can lead to chronic disease.
 
How common is COPD?
COPD is the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States. Its incidence and rates are rising faster among women than among men.

What causes COPD?
Smoking is the most common cause of COPD.

Other causes include:

What are the symptoms of COPD?Inhaler
Symptoms of COPD include: chronic cough, increased mucous, shortness of breath.

COPD diseases are progressive diseases. Except for asthma, the symptoms appear gradually, and then increase in severity over time. Most people with COPD begin to experience symptoms in their 40s and 50s. In the early stages, people experience a shortness of breath and decreased exercise tolerance. Later, people may require supplemental oxygen or mechanical respiratory assistance.   

Who should be screened for COPD?
You should be screened for COPD if:

What can I do about COPD?
Be aware. Keep track of air pollution levels and be aware of the quality of air that you breathe. Pollution levels, in the form of the Air Quality Index, are often given with local weather reports printed in newspapers.

When the air quality index is high, avoid strenuous or outdoor activities.  Avoid congested streets and rush hour traffic, since motor vehicles are the primary source of air pollution.

In Greater Cincinnati, check with the following organizations for up-to-date information:

Hamilton County Department of Environmental Services
Kentucky Division of Air Quality
Ohio Kentucky Indiana Regional Council of Governments

If I’ve been diagnosed with COPD, what can I do to cope?

How is smog formed?
Smog is formed as the result of chemicals reacting in the presence of sunlight, especially in warm weather.
 
Smog tends to be worst from May through October.

What can I do to reduce smog and promote better air quality?

How prevalent is COPD in Kentucky?
Kentucky has one of the highest rates of deaths from COPD. In 2005, the most recent year for which data is available, 179 people in Northern Kentucky died from respiratory diseases, including COPD. A 2011 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 9.3 percent of Kentucky respondents reported that they had been diagnosed with COPD, compared to the national average of 5.8.

Where can I look for more information on COPD?
Health Department's brochure on smog
American Academy of Asthma and Immunology
American Lung Association’s COPD page

Sources: Northern Kentucky Health Department; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kentucky Department for Public Health