Anyone can have trouble breathing once in a while. But for those who have COPD, debilitating symptoms such as shortness of breath, cough, and poor lung function can seem relentless.
If you have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), you need to know that while it can’t be cured, it can be managed. Its symptoms can be controlled. And COPD doesn’t have to keep someone from having a fulfilling and satisfying life.
Recommended Related to Lung Disease/Respiratory Problems
Asbestos is a group of minerals with thin microscopic fibers. Because these fibers are resistant to heat, fire, and chemicals and do not conduct electricity, asbestos has been mined and used widely in the construction, automotive, and other industries.
If products containing asbestos are disturbed, the tiny fibers are released into the air. When they are breathed in, they can become trapped in the lungs and stay there for many years. Over time these fibers can accumulate and lead to serious health...
COPD is a term that describes a group of lung diseases, mainly emphysema and chronic bronchitis, that cause air-flow obstructions.
Everyone experiences a slow decline in lung function after their 20s or 30s, says Neil Schachter, MD, medical director of the Respiratory Care Department at Mount Sinai Center in New York City. “As we age, lung function slowly declines each year.”
But some people, such as those who smoke cigarettes, experience a rapid decline in lung function associated with COPD. Indeed, smoking is a major risk factor for COPD, but it is not the only one. Environmental risk factors include exposure to fumes and irritants, living with air pollution, or living in a dusty environment. And some people can inherit a genetic predisposition for developing COPD.
Recognizing COPD Symptoms
Early detection and medical treatment makes it easier to manage COPD. While early COPD may not cause noticeable symptoms, a doctor’s exam can reveal abnormal breathing and wheezing when a person exhales. Other COPD symptoms may include:
an increase or decrease in the amount of mucus or sputum, also called phlegm, that is produced in the lungs and coughed up
the presence of blood in the sputum
shortness of breath that is persistent -- often described as ‘heaviness’ or ‘air hunger’
a chronic cough present throughout the day
a general feeling of ill health
swelling of the ankles
using more pillows or sleeping in a chair instead of a bed to avoid shortness of breath
unexplained increase or decrease in weight
increasing morning headaches, dizzy spells, or restlessness