How to Tell If You Have Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

How to Tell If You Have Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

If you are experiencing difficulty breathing, it is important to know whether you have the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

This condition affects more than 16 million people in the United States and can lead to serious health complications if left untreated. (1)

What is COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe.

The two main types of COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. (2)

Chronic bronchitis occurs when the airways in your lungs become inflamed and irritated, while emphysema damages the air sacs in your lungs.

Both of these conditions can make it difficult to get enough oxygen into your bloodstream, leading to shortness of breath, fatigue, and other symptoms. (3)

COPD is a serious condition that can be disabling and even fatal.

How to tell if you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

If you have COPD, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath, even when you are not exerting yourself
  • Wheezing or a cough that does not go away
  • A persistent cough that produces mucus
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Swelling in your ankles, feet, or legs
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Unexplained weight loss

These symptoms usually develop slowly and worsen over time.

If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to see your doctor so that you can get a proper diagnosis and treatment.

COPD is a progressive disease, which means that it will get worse over time if left untreated. (4)

Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to managing the condition and preventing further damage to your lungs.

How is COPD diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history.

They will also give you a physical exam and order tests to check your lung function.

The most common test used to diagnose COPD is spirometry, which measures how much air you can breathe in and out. (5)

Other tests may also be ordered, such as a chest x-ray or CT scan, to check for other conditions that may be causing your symptoms.

What are the treatment options for COPD?

There is no cure for COPD, but there are treatments available that can help you manage your symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. (6)

Treatment options include:

  • Inhaled bronchodilators: These medications open up the airways in your lungs, making it easier to breathe.
  • Inhaled corticosteroids: These medications can reduce inflammation in the airways, making it easier to breathe.
  • Oxygen therapy: If you have COPD, you may need supplemental oxygen to help you get enough oxygen into your bloodstream.
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation: This is an exercise and education program that can help you learn how to manage your COPD.
  • Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be recommended to remove damaged tissue from the lungs or widen the airways.

What is the life expectancy of someone with COPD?

The life expectancy of someone with COPD depends on the severity of the disease.

Mild COPD can lead to a life expectancy of about 20 years, while severe COPD can reduce life expectancy to as little as five years. (7)

However, early diagnosis and treatment can help slow the progression of the disease and improve the quality of life.

What should you avoid with COPD?

There are certain things that you should avoid if you have COPD.

These include:

  • Smoking: Smoking is the leading cause of COPD and can make your symptoms worse. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health.
  • Secondhand smoke: Avoid being around secondhand smoke, as it can also make your symptoms worse.
  • Air pollution: Air pollution can irritate and inflame the airways, making it difficult to breathe.
  • Dust: Dust can also irritate and inflame the airways, so it is important to avoid exposure if possible.
  • Respiratory infections: If you have COPD, you are at an increased risk of developing respiratory infections. It is important to get vaccinated against influenza and pneumococcal disease to help reduce your risk.

The bottom line

COPD is a serious condition that can be disabling and even fatal.

If you have any of the symptoms listed above, it is important to see your doctor so that you can get a proper diagnosis and treatment.

With early diagnosis and treatment, you can slow the progression of the disease and improve your quality of life.

How to Tell  If You Have  Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease  (COPD)