Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Prevalence

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The main cause of COPD… is tobacco smoking.

You Need To Breathe

November is COPD Awareness Month
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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death in America today. Despite it being so popular, 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.

COPD is a general term that describes progres­sive respira­tory diseases like emphy­sema and chronic bronchitis. It manifests as progres­sively decreasing airflow, as well as inflam­mation of airway tissues. Asthma is usually considered a separate respira­tory disease, but sometimes it is mistaken for COPD. The two have over­lapping pulmonology 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 the years. People get so used to living with COPD, they are not 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 signs:

  • Constant coughing, sometimes called “smoker’s cough”
  • Shortness of breath while doing everyday activities
  • 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 pulmonology health care provider. If you notice such symptoms in a loved one, remind them that the sooner COPD is diagnosed, the better they will be able to breathe and live. To lessen anxiety, offer to go along to the doctor’s visit.

Most of this Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease informa­tion is provided by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Visit COPD.nhlbi.nih.gov for informa­tion, tools and other informa­tive resources.

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Kevin Williams is a health advocate and writer of hundreds of articles for multiple web­sites, including: A Bit More Healthy, KevinMD (WebMD), and Sue’s Nutrition Buzz. He is a prior 15-year con­sul­tant for Neutrogena Research and Scientific Affairs.

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