Do you cough or feel short of breath all the time? Get frequent respiratory infections? Are you a smoker that uses an inhaler regularly? COPD, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema, are lung diseases that affect millions of Americans and is the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S. November is COPD Awareness month. Talk to your doctor today to discuss symptoms of COPD and ways to prevent and treat this condition.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States. It is a preventable and treatable disease that affects millions of Americans. You may think that it only affects smokers, however, there are genetic conditions that predispose patients to COPD.
Symptoms of COPD may include chronic cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, discoloration or clubbing of the fingers and fatigue. Evaluation for this condition includes a complete physical exam and a breathing test also known as Pulmonary Function testing. Your doctor may also order a chest x-ray or refer you to a lung specialist in severe cases. Most patients do well on a daily inhaler and use a rescue inhaler for acute symptoms. Some patients experience acute flare ups of their COPD despite being on controller medications. These flare ups can be treated by seeing your doctor in the office if you catch your symptoms early. However, some flare ups can be quite severe and require ER visits or prolonged hospitalizations. These cases usually require systemic steroids and antibiotics.
Starting treatment for COPD does not eliminate the need to quit smoking. It is never too late to quit smoking. Talk to your doctor today if you are interested in quitting to learn more about available options to help you achieve your health goals. Some people benefit from prescribed medications to quit smoking and some can get there with nicotine replacements such as nicotine gum or patches.
Treating COPD does not only improve your overall health and help you cut back on health care dollars, it will provide a better quality of life for yourself and those around you.