Some health conditions are easy to detect, but others are subtle enough to quietly develop over time and only reveal themselves when a cure is no longer possible. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is one such condition.
Unfortunately, COPD becomes even more dangerous if it continues undiagnosed and untreated for many years. Use this quick guide to familiarize yourself with the initial warning signs of COPD so you can seek preventative care and avoid the serious complications associated with this disease.
What Are the Signs of COPD?
COPD is an umbrella term for a collection of progressive lung diseases like chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and non-reversible asthma. Though each specific disease is unique, the general signs of COPD are characterized by increasing breathlessness. If you have trouble catching your breath, cough frequently, wheeze, and experience tightness in your chest, you could very well be developing COPD. Simply put, ongoing coughing and shortness of breath are not normal and indicate that you need to see your doctor.
What Lifestyle Choices Contribute to COPD?
Smoking is a leading contributing factor to COPD. In fact, COPD occurs most often in people over 40 who have a history of smoking. A full 90 percent of people with COPD have smoked or are current smokers. Environmental factors like long-term contact with harmful pollutants in the workplace can also cause COPD. The most common workplace pollutants include chemicals, dusts, fumes, and secondhand smoke.
How to Seek Treatment for COPD
If you suspect that you are living with COPD, the most important thing to do is make an appointment with your doctor. COPD does not yet have a cure, but the sooner you begin treating your condition, the more control you can maintain over your health.
If you smoke, quitting is the single most important step you can take to minimize the symptoms of your COPD and reduce its impact on your life. Avoiding other lung irritants is also important. Your doctor may recommend pulmonary rehabilitation, which is a medically supervised program to improve your breathing techniques. Surgery, oxygen therapy, and bronchodilators are other options for severe cases of COPD.
Prevention is the very best medicine, so commit to improving your lifestyle choices now, before your COPD has the opportunity to become any worse. Call (352) 666-6950 to make an appointment at IMC Family Doctors to receive the expert care you need for COPD. With multiple locations throughout Florida, the team at IMC is committed to helping you protect your health.