Chronic bronchitis: a disease that progresses silently
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a disabling respiratory disease, which mainly affects smokers. Her diagnosis is often late. However, identifying symptoms as soon as possible allows for a better quality of life.
Gradual narrowing of the bronchi
It is an active disease that affects the bronchi and lungs. COPD is mainly characterized by a decrease, which is not very reversible, in the size of the bronchi. Air enters the pulmonary alveoli, but it leaves with difficulty due to the progressive narrowing of the bronchi. The condition remains silent for a long time, and when shortness of breath is present, the damage is already severe.
Tobacco, the main risk factor for COPD
Tobacco is responsible for 80% of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) cases. About 10 to 15% of smokers develop COPD, the first symptoms usually develop after 20 years of smoking. Stopping tobacco use can considerably slow down the evolution of an already installed COPD.
Other risk factors
COPD mainly affects adults over the age of 45, and its frequency increases with age.
Men are more affected than women. However, the proportion of affected women tends to increase in industrialized countries, particularly due to increased female smoking and increased sensitivity in their bronchi.
Prematurity, passive smoking during pregnancy, respiratory infections during childhood, and genetic factors are factors to consider when developing COPD.
Occupational exposure to pollutants (solvents, toxic gases, cements, silica dust, etc.) is a risk factor. It is even higher when solvent exposure and tobacco use are combined.
Malnutrition and unfavorable living conditions increase the risk of developing severe COPD.
Pollution, whether atmospheric (exhaust gases, factory fumes, etc.) or domestic (tobacco, toxic products, and dust), can worsen COPD.