While Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may be a little-known disease, it is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Even more alarming is the fact that COPD is incredibly common. The effects of COPD take a long time to kick in, making it difficult to spot the warning signs of this disease. This means that the disease may be in your body for years before you actually realize that you have it.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there were more than 15.7 million Americans who were diagnosed with this disease in 2014. Of these people, fewer than half did not actually expect their diagnosis. Let’s understand the warning signs of COPD so that you won’t be caught off guard in the future.
What is COPD?
COPD encompasses a number of chronic breathing disorders that block the passageways in your respiratory system. Asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis are just some of the disorders that this disease can entail.
The most common cause of COPD is smoking. This does not mean, however, that you can’t get this disease if you’re not a smoker. Poor indoor air quality, as well as air pollution, can also bring on this disease.
How Does COPD Start?
Because the warning signs for COPD are not very noticeable, its symptoms can be confused with other respiratory issues. Here are the signs of COPD that you should keep a lookout for:
- Being short of breath when doing physical activities
- Needing to clear mucus from your throat on a daily basis
- Respiratory infections on a regular basis
- Chronic cough
- Tightness in the chest
Because many of these symptoms appear with other illnesses such as asthma and a cold, people tend to shrug them off. Unfortunately, many of the more serious symptoms of COPD do not start appearing until the disease reaches a more serious stage.
The Serious Signs of COPD
COPD is a disease that gradually worsens as time progresses. Because of this, you may reach a stage where you start to experience more serious symptoms than the ones that can be mistaken for the common cold. If fact, many of these symptoms may look as if they have nothing to do with the respiratory system at all.
Weight loss is one potential symptom that can appear in the disease’s later stages. You may find yourself running out of breath more easily when performing physical exercise, or perhaps even struggling to breath when your body is in different positions. Your nail beds and lips may also start to develop a bluish tinge. Developing chronic fatigue is also a common occurrence among sufferers of COPD.
Do You Have COPD? You Have Options!
Before you attempt to self-diagnose, you should make sure to consult with your doctor as soon as possible. You may be able to uncover a detail about your medical history or that of your family’s that could assist in the diagnosis. Some of the questions that your doctor may ask you are your exposure to cigarette smoke, chemical fumes, or any other substances that could damage your lungs.
Your doctor may perform a number of tests in order to confirm the diagnosis. Just some of these tests could be an arterial blood gas analysis, a chest x-ray, a CT scan, or a pulmonary function test.
Even if you are diagnosed with COPD, there are a number of treatments available that will help you cope with this illness. Fortunately, COPD is treatable and it is possible to slow down the disease’s progress with the correct treatments.
COPD Medication Inhalers are one form of treatment that helps relax your muscles and widen your airways so that breathing becomes easier. Oxygen therapy, or even surgery, can also be performed in order to combat this illness. Cough syrup may also be used, however, this is a less effective form of treatment for COPD. By consulting with your doctor, you can determine the best treatment for you.
Now that you know the warning signs of COPD to look out for, you should act as quickly as possible should you find yourself dealing with some of the symptoms. By scheduling an appointment with your doctor and being properly diagnosed early on, you can give yourself the best fighting chance against this disease. By treating COPD as soon as possible, you can guarantee yourself a long and happy life.