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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Prevalence

The main cause of COPD… is tobacco smoking.

You Need To Breathe

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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death in America nowadays. 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, including emphy­sema and chronic bronchitis. This disease manifests as progres­sively decreasing airflow and inflam­mation of airway tissues.

Asthma is usually considered a separate respira­tory disease, but the symptoms are sometimes mistaken as COPD. The two have over­lapping pulmonology manifestations, including 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
  • Unable to take a deep breath
  • Wheezing
  • Red lunula
  • Barrel chest

As soon as you notice the 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, artist, pro­gram­mer, and writer of hundreds of articles for multiple web­sites. He has 17 years experi­ence as a Neutrogena Research and Scientific Affairs graphics con­sul­tant.

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