COPD is one of America’s top killers but unfortunately many people aren’t aware of the facts. COPD is serious business, and everyone should know the early signs. Let’s take a closer look:
What is COPD?
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) refers to a few progressive (and life-threatening) lung conditions such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis and refractory asthmatics (symptoms never go away). People with COPD have a hard time breathing because their airways lose elasticity
, scarring destroy airway walls, or too much mucus is produced which clogs the airways.
How Many People Are Affected?
Unbeknownst to most people, COPD slips under the radar as the third leading cause of death in America. At least 11 million Americans are afflicted with COPD (the numbers are likely much higher is it is underdiagnosed). Every hour approximately 250,000 people
worldwide will die of COPD. It is also a leading cause of disability.
Who is Affected?
More women die of COPD than men, largely because of misdiagnosis but it also appears estrogen may play a role. COPD often strikes those in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, but in rare cases younger people can also be affected by COPD, so everyone should know the signs.
What are the Symptoms of COPD?
Many people aren’t diagnosed until their disease is in the advanced stages. Know the early warning signs
- Chronic coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Blueish lips or fingernails
- Chronic wheezing
- Chest tightness
- Frequent bouts of bronchitis.
Many of the symptoms can be similar to those of other conditions as well such as asthma and cardiovascular disease, so be sure to get checked out if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
What Causes COPD?
While the main cause of COPD is smoking and inhaling smoke, not everyone who has the disease is a former smoker. Inhaling environment pollutants over a long term (such as at a hazardous job) and genetics can also cause COPD.
Is There a Cure for COPD?
There is no cure for COPD, but it is a highly treatable
condition if it is caught early enough. Many of the same medications that asthmatics take help COPD sufferers, as well as corticosteroids or oxygen therapy
. Early screening can catch COPD before too much damage is done, so the condition can be treated to help slow its progression. Doctors can screen for COPD with a simple spirometry test in their office. Ask your doctor about COPD screening today. If you have COPD, ask your doctor to screen you for the Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency
AATD gene, as it may help shed light on how severe your lung disease is or will likely become.
If you have been experiencing some of the symptoms we listed, do not ignore them. Make an appointment today to see a doctor today to get screened for COPD. Thanks for visiting EMC, stay happy and healthy!