Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an inflammatory lung disease that makes breathing difficult. It is caused by damage to the lungs over a prolonged period of time and is usually attributed to smoking.
COPD can result in serious, long-term disability and is the third leading cause of death in the United States.
The symptoms of COPD typically present when there is significant damage to the lung. They may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chronic cough
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Swelling of the feet, ankles or legs
Those most at risk of developing COPD are individuals who:
• Are over age 40 and currently smoke or smoked at some point
• Worked or lived around chemicals or fumes
• Have certain genetic conditions
• Have asthma
If you think you have COPD, you should:
• Talk with your healthcare provider about your symptoms
• Request a breathing test, known as a spirometry
• Quit smoking! If you need help, ask your doctor
• Avoid pollutants or fumes that can irritate your lungs
COPD can lead to other health complications such as heart problems, lung cancer, or high blood pressure in the arteries that bring blood to your lungs.
While you can’t undo the damage COPD has caused to your lungs, there are steps you can take to prevent the condition from getting worse, this includes avoiding factors that can irritate lungs, taking medications as directed, enrolling in a pulmonary rehabilitation program, and receiving annual flu and pneumonia vaccines.