Latest News from Cyncoed Consulting Rooms

Get it Off Your Chest - treating breathing difficulties

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

About three million people in the UK have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The condition affects people over the age of 40 and becomes more common as you get older. The average age of diagnosis is around 67 years and is more common in men than women.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a term for people with chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or both. With this condition the airflow to the lungs is obstructed and it is commonly caused by smoking. Common symptoms include coughing and breathlessness and phlegm. The most important treatment of course is to stop smoking. Inhalers are commonly used to ease symptoms together with treatments such as steroids, antibiotics and oxygen; mucus-thinning medicines are sometimes prescribed in more severe cases, or during a worsening of symptoms.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease accounts for more time off work than any other sickness. One in eight admissions to hospital is the result of a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

What causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease?

  • Smoking is the cause in the vast majority of cases.
  • Air pollution and polluted work conditions. The combination effect of occupational exposure to air pollutants and smoking increases the chances of developing COPD
  • Genetic risk .A small number of people have a genetic (hereditary) risk of COPD due to very rare protein deficiencies that can lead to lung, liver and blood disorders. .

People who have never smoked rarely develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease however passive smoking may be a cause.

What are the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease?

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath and/or wheezing
  • Sputum or phlegm
  • A proneness to chest infections

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may be suspected by your doctor because of your symptoms. Examination of your chest can be normal in mild or early stages of the illness. The most common test used in helping to diagnose the condition is called spirometry. This test estimates lung volumes by measuring how much air you can blow out into a machine.

If you have concerns about your breathing contact the CCR General Practice where an experienced doctor can perform a variety of tests (including spirometry) to identify any problems and recommend a suitable treatment.