Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a common condition which normally affects middle aged or older adults who smoke.  It includes emphysema (damage to the air sacs in the lungs) and chronic bronchitis, long term inflammation of the airways.

Most sufferers don’t realise they have the condition and over time respiratory problems will deteriorate and have an adverse impact upon normal everyday life.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) confirm that COPD is a major cause of disability and death which affects over a million individuals in the UK.  It is the 4th leading cause of death throughout the world. Walking up hills, climbing stairs or playing with your grandchildren can become difficult because of shortness of breath so it is important not to ignore the signs.

The main cause of COPD is smoking which affects the lungs causing inflammation and damage to the lung linings. Non-smokers can be affected but it is recognised that smoking will increase the risks of developing COPD.  It is estimated 15% of COPD cases are attributed to workplace exposure to harmful fumes or dust and in some instances genetic factors increase likelihood of harm, common symptoms include;

  • Increased breathlessness upon exertion
  • Persistent chesty cough with phlegm
  • Frequent chest infections
  • Persistent wheezing

Studies have linked more than a dozen different diseases to asbestos exposure which include mesothelioma and asbestosis.  In respect of COPD the evidence is less clear although researchers suspect that exposure to asbestos dust can aggravate COPD.

Damage caused to the lungs by COPD is permanent but treatments can help to slow down progression of the disease which include;

  • Stopping smoking
  • Inhalers and medication
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation
  • Surgery or lung transplant

The outlook for COPD varies from person to person and in most cases smoking cessation can increase the quality of life. Sadly the condition is irreversible and COPD is now widely considered to be a preventable condition.

If you have been diagnosed with COPD or you are undergoing medical investigations and mention has been made that your condition could be work-related please call us today on FREEPHONE 0808 164 6018, complete our Enquire Now form, talk to us via Live Chat or email us at,

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