Over 32 million Americans suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (also known as COPD). COPD is a progressive lung disease without a cure.
COPD is most commonly the result of smoking or exposure to air pollution, fumes or inhaled irritants. This disease progresses more quickly in smokers compared to non-smokers. It can be associated with chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthma.
People who suffer from COPD experience symptoms differently. For some, it might be part of everyday life, such as a constant cough, shortness of breathe, difficulty catching your breathe, however it’s a progressive disease, and symptoms will progressively get worse if you don’t start treatments. Some of the most common COPD symptoms include:
- Persistent cough that produces a lot of mucus (sometimes called a “smoker’s cough”)
- Tightness in the chest
- Shortness of breath doing simple activities
- Unexplained swelling in ankles or legs
- Feeling like your heart is beating out of your chest
- Easily susceptible to the flu or flu-like symptoms
Traditional treatments for COPD vary, depending on the severity of the disease, but they can include supplemental oxygen, pulmonary rehabilitation or medications. Advanced stages often require intubation and use of a ventilator.