COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. COPD is used to describe progressive lung diseases characterized by chronic airflow limitations, including chronic emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Millions of people in the United States suffer from COPD. It is estimated that there are about 16 million people diagnosed with the disease and 14 million or more who are undiagnosed.
Most cases of COPD are caused by cigarette smoking. However, COPD can also be caused by other factors such as environmental and industrial pollutants, childhood lung infections and even hereditary factors. Patients with COPD have diminished lung capacity due to the small alveoli in the lung’s air sacs being destroyed.
Though considered a chronic, debilitating and sometimes fatal disease, COPD can be managed and controlled with the proper treatment. Early detection is very important in treating COPD. Be sure to watch for the early warning signs, especially if you smoke or are a former smoker. Your doctor can perform a test to analyze your lung function and determine whether you have COPD. Most COPD patients are treated by a pulmonologist, a physician who specializes in the treatment of diseases of the lungs and pulmonary system. Reliant Medical Group features a comprehensive COPD Program to help those suffering from COPD.
Key warning signs of COPD
- Marked shortness of breath during exertion
- A cough that won’t go away
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Changes in the amount, color or thickness of the sputum you produce
- Sleeping in a chair instead of a bed to prevent shortness of breath