Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, better known as COPD, is an inflammatory lung disease that affects millions of people worldwide. A COPD patient experiences trouble breathing due to obstructed airflow to the lungs. The main forms of COPD include chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The most common cause is cigarette smoking, but other causes include long-term exposure to irritating gases. People with this disorder are more at risk of developing lung cancer and heart disease. People with symptoms of COPD should consult their physician without hesitation.
The most common early warning signs of COPD include:
Shortness of breath
Shortness of breath is often considered a sign of being tired by most people, but with COPD, the difficulty breathing is constant and does not go completely away. A proper diagnosis by a doctor will determine the reason for the shortness of breath.
Chronic cough with excess mucus is one of the main symptoms of COPD that gets progressively worse over time. This can be misinterpreted by people as just a cold, but not getting treatment can result is a severe case of COPD or other health issues.
Wheezing is another symptom of this lung disease. Often times, the symptoms of COPD do not occur until after there has already been significant lung damage. Wheezing could only indicate that the disease has reached the serious stage.
Tightness in the chest
Tightness in the chest indicates that there is something wrong with either the heart or the lungs. It is one of the definite signs of a lung problem. With COPD, people may have episodes of exacerbation which means that symptoms become worse than usual from day to day.
Lack of energy
People with COPD often experience a lack of energy. They tire quickly, and find it difficult to complete certain tasks without stopping to rest. They may contribute this to not getting enough sleep. They may also lose weight without trying. Sometimes, the loss of appetite is overlooked.
COPD lifestyle changes can greatly help with the symptoms. The most important effort that a person with COPD can make is to change their lifestyle. They need to refrain from being in the presence of irritating chemicals and fumes. If the person is employed in a place where these types of irritants are constantly present, they should speak with the employer about the use of respiratory protective equipment. Avoid going into areas where irritants are known to be in the air. Quit smoking immediately as many people with COPD have been cigarette smokers for a number of years. Once they are diagnosed, some people still refuse to eliminate their cigarette smoking habit. Ceasing smoking is the best thing that someone can do for their COPD. Continuing with this habit only increases the severity of the disease, and the risk of developing other health issues. They should also avoid any possibility of inhaling second hand smoke from others.
The symptoms of COPD are often treated with oxygen therapy. Ensuring that the body has enough oxygen will help minimize some of the symptoms and allow the person to breathe easier. Using an oxygen therapy will also help loosen the mucus for easier elimination. Be mindful of all the symptoms, and bring them to a doctor’s attention as soon as possible.