COPD symptoms

People who have COPD have a health condition also called Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. This is a chronic bronchitis/emphysema type disease. It is also a disease that is related to asthma and can produce flare ups of breathlessness. It is characterized by permanent, reduced lung capacity. There is no cure for COPD and people who develop this disease usually end up having to wear oxygen mask and take along a portable oxygen tank with them wherever they go. Smokers are usually the ones who get this dangerous disease and if you smoke your odds of developing COPD are high. In fact, if you are a smoker you are as much as 90 times more likely to develop COPD than any other person who does not smoke. However, some people exposed to years of second hand smoke or polluted air can develop this disease too. There are over 11 million Americans who suffer from COPD. It is the 4th leading cause of death in the U.S. and well on its way of being the 3rd leading cause of death by the year 2020. The disease will normally manifest after the age of 50. If you are a smoker it is important to go to your doctor as soon as you notice COPD symptoms developing. You should also make sure you are getting your regularly yearly checkups, especially if you are a smoker so that you can be medically screened for it.

COPD symptoms may first appear with changes to the shape of the chest in people who smoke or have been exposed to years of second hand smoke or pollution. The change in the shape of the chest takes years and may not be noticeable at first. People who have this disease develop a barrel shaped chest and will feel like they can not get enough breath. They develop dyspnea, which is shortness of breath. Shortness of breath usually occurs when they lift their arms above their chest. This is a key COPD symptom. To compensate for their breathlessness, people with COPD will find they can breath better if they lean forward when they sit. Another symptom that will develop is a high pitched noise when they breathe which is caused by air passing through narrowed airways in the lungs. When a person has such trouble breathing for long periods of time they can begin to lose weight rather quickly as well. This is due to the calories they use while trying to get enough breath.

Other COPD symptoms include a chronic cough. The cough will be worse in the morning than at night. When the person coughs they may spit up a small amount of sputum tinged with blood. The name for this symptom is hemoptysis. People who have this disease will experience tightness in the chest and have recurrent respiratory infections. Due to the lack of oxygen they are getting they will be little tolerance for exercise. The simple act of walking can be difficult for them due to lack of oxygen. Other symptoms include increased morning headaches and persistent lung infections like pneumonia and the fu. People who have advanced COPD symptoms generally have bluish skin coloring {cyanosis), fluid retention and a bloated abdomen. A chronic feeling of fatigue is also another symptom.

When a person is diagnosed with COPD the doctor may prescribe oxygen therapy for them. Oxygen therapy is beneficial and will allow patients to be more active. Using supplemental oxygen can extend the life of a person with COPD and will help to protect the heart and other organs from being damaged by insufficient oxygen levels. Portable oxygen tanks are typically use. These oxygen tanks have rechargeable batteries and can be recharged by a car accessory outlet so that the person who has COPD can remain active and continue doing their own errands while taking their oxygen tank with them. People who have COPD can also learn breathing techniques to restore a normal pattern of breathing faster when they have a flare up of COPD. Certain prescribed medications are also given to people who have this disease.

Last updated on Mar 5th, 2010 and filed under Respiratory Diseases. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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