The Smokers’ Lung
COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is an umbrella term group of disorders including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and bronchiectasis. COPD is an irreversible lung disease associated with dyspnea upon exertion and a reduction of airflow in the lungs. Cigarette smoking is the number one cause of COPD.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, COPD is chronic inflammation of the cells lining the bronchial tree. Smoking maintains an ongoing inflammatory response which leads to airway narrowing and constriction. This causes airways to become swollen, excess mucus to be produced and the cilia to function poorly.
As COPD progresses patients find it increasingly difficult to clear the secretions, leading to chronic cough & wheezing. As excess mucus is produced, it begins to pool in the airways, providing a perfect breeding ground for bacteria to grow. This leads to further inflammation and bacterial infections as well as alveoli destruction.