Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Awareness

Don’t take breathing for granted.

By Kevin RR Williams

HEALTH COPD—Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is the third leading cause of death in America today. Half of the estimated 24 million who have it don’t even know it. COPD permanently damages the airways and air sacs in the lungs.

Asthma is usually considered a separate respiratory disease, but sometimes it is mistaken for COPD. The two have overlapping symptoms that include chronic coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

The main cause of COPD in developed countries is tobacco smoking. COPD comes on gradually and worsens over a number of years. People get so used to living with COPD, they aren’t always aware of their symptoms and how the disease limits their quality of life and ability to do things. You can help by looking and listening for these telltale symptoms:

  • Constant coughing, sometimes called “smoker’s cough”
  • Shortness of breath while doing everyday activities, such as light housework, taking a walk or even getting dressed
  • Excess sputum
  • Feeling unable to breathe
  • Not able to take a deep breath
  • Wheezing
  • Red lunula

As soon as you notice signs and symptoms, make an appointment with a health care provider. If you notice such symptoms in a loved one, remind them that the sooner COPD is diagnosed, the better they’ll be able to breathe and live. To lessen anxiety, offer to go along to the doctor’s visit.

November is COPD Awareness Month. Most of this article information is provided by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Visit COPD.nhlbi.nih.gov for information, tools and other informative, helpful resources to stay A Bit More Healthy.

Tags: asthma, breathe, hacking, pulmonology, wheeze