Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, more commonly known as COPD, is a progressive and chronic condition affecting the lungs and respiratory system and is defined by a shortness of breath that worsens over time. COPD is typically associated with those who smoke cigarettes, or have smoked in the past, but it can also be found in people who have had a long-term or frequent exposure to other pollutants or airborne toxins. COPD affects as many as 30 million Americans and ranks third in cause of death in the United States, but in most cases COPD is preventable and with early detection it can also be treatable. There are a number of common symptoms of COPD that when recognized can aid in the early diagnosis of the disease.
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty completing physical activity
- Recurrent or persistent cough
- Increased mucus production, often associated with cough
- Chest tightness
Additionally, there are more severe symptoms of COPD that may surface and, if present, likely require immediate medical attention.
- Rapid heartbeat
- Difficulty speaking or catching breath
- Lips or fingernails appear blue or gray in color
- Absence of mental alertness or attentiveness
If you believe that you or someone you know might be experiencing the signs and symptoms of COPD, consult a medical professional or a primary care physician immediately to discuss treatment options and preventative measures.