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Glossary: COPD

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COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and is a long-term illness that leaves sufferers short of breath, at higher risk of chronic chest infections (including Pneumonia) and with a wheezy and persistent cough.

As its name suggests, people with COPD suffer from the narrowing of the airways, obstructing airflow into their lungs. The walls of the airways thicken and more mucus is produced damaging the walls of the air sacs in the lungs. This can cause emphysema, where the lungs lose their normal elasticity.

Although the main cause of COPD is smoking, exposure to dust or silica in the workplace can cause COPD. Coal miners particularly suffer from COPD as they are exposed to coal dusts. Those working with silica are also at risk, particularly those working in the construction industry, in foundries and in brick making.

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