What is COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a group of lung conditions including bronchitis and emphysema. These conditions make it difficult to empty air out of the lungs because the airways have been narrowed.

  • Bronchitis means the airways are inflamed and narrowed. People with bronchitis often produce sputum, or phlegm.
  • Emphysema affects the air sacs at the end of the airways in your lungs. The sacs break down and the lungs become baggy and full of holes which trap air.

Both conditions narrow the airways. This makes it harder to move air in and out as you breathe. Your lungs are also less able to take in oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide.

The airways are lined by muscle and elastic tissue. In a healthy lung, the tissue between the airways acts as packing and pulls on the airways to keep them open. With COPD, the airways are narrowed because the airway lining is inflamed. Because the lung tissue is damaged there's less pull on the airways or the elastic lining of the airways flops.

Causes of COPD

Breathing in harmful substances such as dust, cigarette smoke, fumes and chemicals can contribute to developing COPD which can have a lasting effect on your health. If you are over 35, or have been a smoker, you're most likely to develop COPD. Research has shown that some people are more affected than others by breathing in noxious materials. COPD also runs in families, so if there's a family history of chest pain, it'll put you at increased risk.
A spotlight on COPD

Treatment of COPD

Unfortunately, there's currently no cure for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, treatment can help slow the progression of the condition and control the symptoms. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has produced guidance on the diagnosis and treatment of COPD.

Your doctor will advise on the best course of treatment. Possible treatments include:

  • stopping smoking – if you have COPD and you smoke, this is the most important thing you can do
  • inhalers and medications – to help make breathing easier
  • pulmonary rehabilitation – a specialised programme of exercise and education
  • surgery or a lung transplant – although this is only an option for a very small number of people

*Disclaimer* Axminster Tools & Machinery do not necessarily endorse any suggestions, solutions, or third party products that may be mentioned. Please use the information at your own discretion. Axminster Tools & Machinery does not guarantee that these links will be maintained or functional at any given time. For more information, we encourage you to visit the official NHS website.

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From February 2019, anyone who undertakes welding activities, regardless of industry must be protected against welding fumes. This comes as a result of new scientific evidence from the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The new findings reveal exposure to welding fumes can cause lung cancer and possibly kidney cancer as well. Read our Welding Health and Safety Update for more details.

Alternatively, whether an employer, self-employed or employed, anyone can suffer financial loss as a result of long term sick leave due to injury at work. Why take the risk? There are measures you can take to reduce risk by using the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Not to mention, it’s the law.