Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) affects 30 million American’s on average. Those living with this disease can be at risk for serious complications with their health, that could possibly be fatal. It’s important to be aware of the signs and how to manage COPD, before major loss of function to the lungs occur.
What is COPD? It is a term to describe progressive lung diseases, such as emphysema, refractory (non-reversible) asthma, chronic bronchitis, and some forms of bronchiectasis. It blocks the airflow, and makes it difficult to breathe.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Increased breathlessness
- Tightness in chest
- Frequent coughing (with and without sputum)
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Frequent fatigue
Many people do not notice the early symptoms of COPD, and believe it is a normal part of aging. It is important to acknowledge these symptoms, and get them checked by a doctor as soon as possible.
Causes of COPD. The most common cause in the United States is cigarette smoke. Other causes include lung damage due to premature birth, inherited genes (genetics), air pollution, and chemical/fume exposure.
Ways to Manage it. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for COPD. However, there are ways to help manage and treat the symptoms, and its progression can be delayed.
- Exercise – Pulmonary Rehabilitation
- Bronchodilator, Corticosteroids (inhalers)
- Supplemental Oxygen
- Surgery – Lung transplantation or lung volume reduction surgery
It is important to consult with a doctor to see which route is best for you.
How to be tested. It is a simple, non-invasive test to diagnose COPD. When taking the test, you will blow all of the air out of your lungs into a mouthpiece connected to a machine, called a spirometer, and it will calculate how much air you blow out of your lungs in a span of 6 seconds or more.
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