Scientists Find a Protein Involved With COPD Exacerbations
In the United States alone, more than 15 million people have reportedly been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Since more than 50 percent of adults who have low pulmonary function are not aware they have COPD, these numbers could be substantially higher. COPD is a disease that gets progressively worse and makes it difficult to breathe because the alveoli and airways in the lungs are damaged, leading to COPD exacerbations. The leading cause of this disease is cigarette smoking, but long-term exposure to air pollutants in the work place or home can also be a cause, along with respiratory infections and genetic factors.
COPD, with its many complications, is the third-leading cause of death in the United States. Symptoms can vary significantly, depending on the amount of damage to the lungs. The symptoms usually develop slowly and are not noticeable until significant damage has already occurred. One of the most common symptoms is chronic coughing, which can be worse in the morning or while smoking and exercising. Other common symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Weight loss
Treating COPD can help reduce the symptoms, and decrease the severity and frequency of exacerbations. While many treatments help manage the symptoms, a new study has found a new possible way of treating COPD.