Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a lung condition where the airway passage becomes narrow with mucus build-up, inhibiting the flow of oxygen containing air to and from the lungs. This is caused by the existence of both emphysema and chronic bronchitis in the patient. COPD in some cases also refers to the damage caused to the lungs by chronic asthmatic bronchitis. Here are some consequence-bearing questions you may want to clarify with your physician in case you have been diagnosed with or are a COPD suspect.
1. I have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). What does this mean?
This means that tobacco particles from smoking and detrimental gases from the burning of tobacco from a lit cigarette have been inhaled and have caused your lung to react adversely to them. In its defense, the lung triggers an inflammatory response (producing phlegm/sputum/mucus), causing chronic bronchitis. The swelling of the airways constricts its cross sectional area and restricts air flow to the lung thus damaging its tissues for good. This causes emphysema. Exacerbations or aggravations of symptoms often occur in COPD patients when exposed to pollutants in the air and respiratory infections.
2. Am I likely to experience any more symptoms besides shortness of breath and the cough with sputum, which I have right now?
If the emphysema is more dominant, then you could experience more wheezing and tightness of the chest. However, if chronic bronchitis is more pronounced in your case, then symptoms of this condition will be more prominent, such as presence of yellow sputum with cough, repeated respiratory infections, and bronchospasms. In other words, the more aggressive of the two ailments will exhibit more prominent symptoms than the other underlying medical condition.
Other common symptoms include fatigue, rhonchus, reduced air flow which steadily worsens, cyanosis (bluish tint to skin), headaches, dizziness, swollen ankles, rapid respiratory rate and chest enlargement, etc.
3. Is COPD infectious?
COPD is not a contagious disease.