Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, more commonly known as COPD, is a disease of the lungs that makes it hard for people to breathe. Unfortunately, it’s a common disease that usually doesn’t show up until people reach their senior years, but the cause is usually from damage to the lungs when people are young. There are two types of COPD: chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
COPD is caused by repetitive inhalation of damaging matter. In most cases, this is firsthand or secondhand cigarette smoke. In fact, according to the American Lung Association, at least 85% of all COPD cases are caused by smoking. This means that it’s often a preventable disease. Despite this fact, however, there are still over 30 million people in the United States with COPD.
It’s also important to note that not all cases are caused by smoking. Other risk factors for COPD include exposure to air pollution, working with chemicals, a history of respiratory infection, and certain genetic conditions.
Symptoms of COPD
The symptoms of COPD don’t usually appear until the lungs have been severely damaged. By this time, it’s usually too late to reverse the damage. Both types of COPD generally have the same symptoms, but chronic bronchitis is also accompanied by a chronic mucus production for at least 25% of the year. A few other symptoms include:
• Shortness of breath
• Persistent, exacerbated cough
• Frequent lung infections
• Weakness or lack of energy
• Chest pressure
Treatments for COPD
COPD can be a completely avoidable disease. However, once you develop COPD, it’s incurable. Treatments then become about managing the disease instead of getting rid of it. Treatments can include medications, physical therapy or exercise, oxygen therapy, and, in rare cases, surgery.
COPD is a terrible disease, but it’s often preventable through certain lifestyle changes. Simply don’t smoke, or stop smoking immediately to avoid developing the disease. It’s common, but you don’t have to be a part of the statistic if you opt to live a healthy, smoke-free lifestyle.