Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) affects more than 3 million people every year, with around 30 million people currently diagnosed with COPD in the United States. November is COPD Awareness Month, and our team at MSCI has put together some information about this condition.
COPD actually describes a number of different diseases that affects your lungs. These diseases include:
· Chronic bronchitis
· Non-reversible asthma (refractory asthma)
· Certain types of bronchiectasis
While someone with COPD might have some or all of these diseases, each one of them contributes to a feeling breathlessness. Many people confuse this feeling and coughing as part of the aging process, but in actuality, COPD could actually be the culprit. People who are particularly at risk of having COPD include:
· Individuals with chronic cough or increased sputum production
· Individuals with reoccurring respiratory infections
· Individuals who get shortness of breath while exercising (exertional dyspnea)
· Individuals who have been exposed to environmental toxins
Most doctors can screen for COPD when you do your preventative care screening or wellness evaluations. If you have any of these symptoms and feel like you might be at risk for COPD. Many experts believe that COPD is under-diagnosed and under-treated.
COPD is usually treated in a couple of ways. If you are a smoker, your doctor will ask you to stop smoking. Although this can be difficult, continuing to smoke can make your COPD worse and make it increasingly difficult to breathe. If you are a smoker suffering from COPD and you are having difficulty quitting, talk to your doctor about creating a plan to help you to quit. Every smoker will have a different path to quitting.
If you are a not a smoker but still have COPD, your doctor will create a treatment plan based on your needs. These treatments often include an inhaler, either for a bronchodilator or for steroids. Sometimes, certain medications will combine both. These medications are designed to help you breathe easier by opening up your airways. There are also some other medications that your doctor may prescribe you.
If you are experiencing shortness of breath or having a difficult time breathing, talk to your doctor and see if COPD could be the problem. Our team at the Medical and Surgical Clinic of Irving are always here to assist you in your journey to better health. Call us at (972) 253-4200 to schedule your appointment.