Have you ever felt out of breath during a normal activity and thought, “This must be part of getting older”? You could be one of the 24 million Americans who have COPD without even knowing it. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) often goes undiagnosed because the early warning signs are easy to dismiss.
SHORTNESS OF BREATH ISN’T NORMAL
Do you ever find yourself fighting for breath during an everyday activity, attribute it to getting older or being out of shape, and go on with your day?
Do you wake up with a cough that’s not quite bad enough to send you to the doctor, but never seems to get any better? These could be symptoms of COPD. It’s important to get diagnosed as early as possible, so treatment can reduce lung damage and help you live better and longer.
WHAT IS COPD?
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a chronic lung disease that can make it hard to breathe. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are common forms of the disease. COPD causes the airways in your lungs to become inflamed and thicken, destroying the tissue where oxygen is exchanged. As a result, the flow of air in and out of your lungs decreases. It becomes harder for the body to get oxygen in and carbon dioxide out. Many COPD sufferers find that as the disease progresses, they get short of breath more often, and it’s harder to remain active.
FIVE WAYS TO REDUCE YOUR RISK FOR COPD
- If you’re a smoker, STOP SMOKING
- If you don’t smoke, don’t start
- Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke and make your home smoke-free
- Take care to protect yourself against chemicals, dust and fumes in your home and at work
- Help fight for clean air
WHO SHOULD GET A COPD TEST?
- Are a smoker or have a history of smoking
- Are exposed to secondhand smoke, air pollution, chemicals or dust
- Have symptoms like shortness of breath, a chronic cough or lots of mucus
- Have family members who have COPD
You should get tested.
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms, complete a health history and perform a simple test called spirometry, which determines how well your lungs work. Your doctor may perform other tests, such as an x-ray or arterial blood gas test. If you’re diagnosed with COPD, you and your doctor will talk about an individualized treatment plan.
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“How Serious Is COPD.” American Lung Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2017.
“Preventing COPD.” American Lung Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 May 2017.