Do you know the early warning signs?
Review COPD symptoms from the American Lung Association. Consult with your doctor if you have any of these symptoms, frequent respiratory infections, or lack of energy.
There are vastly different ways that Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease—better known as COPD—affects those living with it. Since symptoms can be mild at first and increase over time, learning to cope with COPD often means making adjustments as symptoms progress. While there is no cure yet, various treatment and medication options can greatly help those dealing with it.
COPD is an umbrella term that encompasses several progressive lung diseases, including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, asthma (the non-reversible kind), and some forms of bronchiectasis, which is abnormal widening of the bronchial tubes.
One of the first signs people notice is shortness of breath and coughing, though it is common for those in early stages of COPD to assume these signs are just a normal part of aging. A person with COPD might not even detect it at first because the disease can develop for years without perceptible symptoms. It’s important to talk to your doctor if you do notice symptoms. Getting screened early can help identify COPD before major loss of lung function occurs.
Most cases of COPD are caused by inhaling pollutants, usually due to smoking. Even someone who smoked early in life and then quit can develop this disease. In addition, environmental factors can play a role. Being exposed to fumes, chemicals, and dust found in certain work environments contributes to development of the disease. But, even if a person has never smoked or been exposed long-term to strong lung irritants, genetics is thought be a factor, as well.
Symptoms of COPD often don't appear until significant lung damage has already occurred and they usually worsen over time, particularly if exposure to lung irritants continues. Symptoms include:
Consult with your doctor if you have any of these symptoms, frequent respiratory infections, or lack of energy.
People with advancing COPD may require supportive professional care in a safe environment to ensure their condition is managed effectively.