Chronic Bronchitis & COPDFree legal advice for Bronchitis and COPD sufferers
Chronic Bronchitis & COPD
COPD Claims COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is the name given to a collection of obstructive lung conditions, including chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive airways disease and emphysema. It leads to blocked airways and the main symptoms include breathlessness, wheezing, persistent coughing (often with phlegm) and increased occurrences of chest infections. Globally, it is estimated that COPD affects as much as five percent of the population. In most instances, the disease worsens over time and it can ultimately lead to disability or even death.
What Causes Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease?
COPD is caused by long-term damage to the lungs. Smoking is the main risk factor and as a result, the disease is sometimes known as “smoker’s lung”. The chances of developing the condition increase with frequent and long-term smoking and studies show that half of all life-long smokers will eventually develop COPD. However, long-term damage to the lungs can be sustained in a number of other ways and the development of COPD has also been strongly linked to prolonged exposure to chemicals, dust and fumes, especially in the workplace. Some of the main hazards include coal, cadmium, grains, isocyanates and silica dust. Research suggests that occupational exposure could be the cause in as many as 20 percent of COPD cases. Meanwhile, air pollution and passive smoking are two slightly less significant causes of the disease.
Occupations Linked With COPD Although any occupation which exposes workers to the chemicals, dust or fumes listed above can contribute towards the development of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, certain jobs and industries have been repeatedly identified as posing a risk.
- These jobs and industries include:
- Cotton mining
- Gold mining
- Cotton textiles
- Brick making
- Rubber and plastics
- Pottery and ceramics
COPD Diagnosis COPD diagnosis requires a consultation with a GP. The diagnosis should be considered if a patient reports the previously mentioned symptoms, especially if they are over the age of 35 and smoke or work in a linked occupation.
A diagnosis can then be confirmed with the use of a breathing test (spirometry), which measures airflow. In some cases, x-rays, blood analysis and other tests may be required. This is usually done in order to rule out a number of other conditions, which produce many of the same symptoms. An early diagnosis can be important in limiting the progression of the disease and ensuring that treatment is as effective as possible. Unfortunately, because the symptoms can be similar to numerous other conditions, such as asthma, it is believed that many cases of COPD currently go undiagnosed. COPD Treatment No cure for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease currently exists. Therefore, the focus of COPD treatment is on slowing down the progression of the disease, reducing or removing risk factors and relieving the symptoms as much as possible.
Medications such as bronchodilators and orticosteroids are often used to treat the condition and both have been shown to help control the symptoms. In addition, regular flu vaccinations and a basic exercise programme have shown demonstrable benefits for sufferers of the disease. However, the primary form of treatment involves the prevention of exposure to harmful chemicals. This includes smoking cessation and getting away from occupations which contribute towards such exposure.
What Happens If You Have Been Diagnosed?
If you have been given a confirmed diagnosis of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease by a doctor, and its development is associated with the working conditions provided by either a past or present employer, you may be entitled to make a compensation claim. Compensation payments stemming from occupational COPD can be significant, although they can also vary drastically from case to case. Claims are assessed by solicitors on their own individual merits, but if smoking or other factors are believed to have been a major cause, you will not usually be able to make a successful compensation claim. Furthermore, if you have COPD and are unable to continue work as a result, you may be entitled to claim disability or employment-related welfare payments from the government.
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