Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic disease that inflames the lungs and results in restricted airways and difficulty breathing. Studies show that at least 16 million United States citizens suffer from COPD, with possibly millions of other people with COPD who don’t even realize they have it. Although there is currently no known treatment for the disease, understanding the symptoms and causes of it can help you keep it under control, improving your overall health and quality of life.
Symptoms and Causes of COPD
COPD cannot always be officially diagnosed by a medical professional. However, if you suffer from multiple symptoms, it will help you understand whether or not COPD is the source of your breathing issues. You may suffer from COPD if you experience more than one of the following symptoms:
- Restricted Breathing
- Tight Chest
- Shortness of Breath
- Chronic Cough
- Respiratory Illness
Additionally, your symptoms will make more sense if you understand what causes COPD. For instance, if you experience wheezing and coughing on a regular basis, and you also happen to have a tobacco smoking habit, COPD is immediately more likely to be the root problem. Causes of this condition can include the following:
Long-Term Smoking Habits
If you habitually smoke cigarettes or cigars, you can cause irreversible damage to your lungs. Cigarette smoke has been proven to cause lung cancer and other chronic lung conditions. Even long-term exposure to secondhand smoke takes a toll on your lungs. Quitting smoking is difficult, but it is worth it for the sake of your long-term health.
If you work around fumes, chemicals, carbon dioxide, or other lung irritants on a regular basis, you are more likely to develop COPD. Make sure you protect your nose and mouth with a medically-safe mask to avoid ingesting harmful chemicals.
Exposure to Polluted Air
Often, increased exposure to poor air quality (indoor or outdoor) results in a higher risk of severe allergies and respiratory illnesses. These illnesses can eventually develop into COPD.
What Are the Long-Term Effects of COPD?
On its own, COPD is uncomfortable and inconvenient. However, the immediate discomfort is a very small issue when compared to the long-term effects COPD can have on your health. In addition to the regular symptoms, COPD can cause the following problems in your body.
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Mental Illness (such as depression and anxiety)
While a small cough here and there may seem like a minor issue, it is actually very serious. COPD gets worse over time, and your life is too important to view your health as a light matter.
How Can You Avoid COPD?
Again, there is no cure for COPD if you already have it. Whether you’re trying to avoid COPD or trying to control it, the steps are similar. First, if you are a chronic smoker, it is important to break the habit. Smoking will never make your lungs better, only worse. Especially if you suffer from asthma or are prone to getting respiratory infections, make an effort to breath clean air only.
Additionally, poor air quality can cause difficulty breathing over time. If you live in an area with highly polluted air, consider wearing a mask when you are out and about to avoid weakening your immune system.
If you are prone to breathing problems, make sure you take lung tests regularly. Properly tracking data and symptoms can mean better health, a higher level of comfort, and even the difference between life and death.