Your respiratory system is vital to living, being responsible for breathing, taking in oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide, protecting you from harmful substances (through coughing and sneezing), and even helping your sense of smell. Your lungs are critical to this process, and anything that causes damage to them increases the risk of many respiratory problems.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a form of lung disease that creates obstructed airflow in your lungs, and certain other lung conditions increase the risk of getting it. However, there are still many things people get wrong about this condition, so to clear up any confusion, let’s examine what COPD is, its causes and symptoms, and the misconceptions people have about this dangerous condition.
This chronic and inflammatory lung disease is the general term for several lung problems that compromise your ability to breathe properly. Long-term exposure to irritating gasses or particular matter is generally the overall cause. If you are diagnosed with COPD, you can have one or more lung diseases, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. You become more compromised over time with difficulty breathing and many other functions.
This lung illness is already affecting 15 million people as of 2020, and another 12 million not even realizing they’re dealing with it.
Smoking causes most forms of COPD (around 90%), but Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency, secondhand smoke, air pollution, and other environmental hazards, such as workplace dust and fumes, can also lead to this form of lung disease. It can also lead to severe complications over time, such as respiratory infections, cardiovascular problems, lung cancer, hypertension in the arteries of your lungs, and depression.
If you have COPD, you can expect to deal with symptoms, including shortness of breath, wheezing, tightness in your chest, fatigue, frequent respiratory infections, chronic cough, and swelling in the feet, ankles, or legs. Later stages of the condition may also have you experience weight loss.
Here’s what people get wrong about this lung condition:
While most people with this illness get it from smoking, many factors contribute to its risks. In fact, up to 20% of people suffering from COPD are non-smokers.
While the potential threat of COPD is high, it is not untreatable, and you can live with it. Diet changes, medications, rehabilitation, and vaccination from respiratory infections can make a difference in managing the condition and improving your life.
Regardless of how bad your COPD is, smoking will only make it worse. So stopping at any time means having less worry about damage to your lungs.
Both conditions affect your lungs and can make breathing difficult, but they are not the same. COPD affects your lung’s alveoli, which are tiny air sacs that allow the gaseous exchange necessary in the breathing process. Asthma is an inflammation of the airways caused by allergies and other irritants. Both can be treated, but asthma does not often worsen to the degree of COPD over time.
The logic is that without proper lung function, you lack the energy necessary to do very much physically. But pulmonary rehabilitation is designed to increase lung capacity and make exercising easier. Your body still needs exercise, and there are ways for people with this condition to get help.
There is a lot about COPD that people don’t understand, but while dangerous, it is both manageable and survivable. If you’re dealing with the symptoms of this condition, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with Dr. Okafor and Sugarland Primary Care today to get treatment.