By: Marianne Drevna, BS, LRCP

If you have been diagnosed with COPD then you’re very familiar with just how much it can affect your everyday life. If you haven’t been diagnosed or don’t know someone who has then you may be wondering what you actually need to be AWARE of. Here are a few facts about COPD:

  • COPD consists of two conditions, Chronic Bronchitis where the airways are inflamed and produce excess mucus and Emphysema where the air sacs become damaged.
  • COPD is the fourth leading cause of deaths in the U.S., behind cancer and heart disease.
  • 30% of people that are diagnosed have NEVER SMOKED.
  • Smoking is the leading cause but asthma, occupational conditions and air pollution also play a part in developing this disease
  • COPD has become more prevalent in women in many developed countries, sometimes equaling or surpassing the rate of men.
  • COPD cannot be cured, but early diagnosis and treatment can improve quality of life, help you stay active, and slow the progression of the disease.
  • Millions of people are undiagnosed due to a disregard of symptoms being written off as “getting older” or “I’m out of shape”. The increase in symptoms can be a gradual process and by the time professional help is sought out the disease has done more irreparable damage.
  • COPD symptoms are: chronic cough, shortness of breath, chest tightness, inability to take a deep breath and mucus production.
  • COPD management includes: Pulmonary Rehabilitation (this is very important and effective), education, breathing techniques and counseling for stress and anxiety.

If you are noticing any changes in your breathing that can’t be explained please make your doctor aware so you can get the necessary testing and help stop the progression of lung damage and get the appropriate treatment. Time is an important factor because every breath counts.