Signs And Symptoms Of COPD
Although Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) doesn’t get nearly as much media attention as, say, heart disease or breast cancer, it’s the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.
According to the federal National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the illness kills 120,000 Americans every year. The NHLBI says that 12 million people have been diagnosed with the disease—and it’s possible that another 12 million more don’t know they have it.
So what is it exactly? COPD is a term that covers both chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Many people who have been diagnosed with COPD have both illnesses. Both chronic bronchitis and emphysema are diseases of the lung . But they affect the lungs in different ways. With chronic bronchitis, the lining of the airways is inflamed and irritated. Because of that, the lining is thickened and it becomes harder to breathe. Emphysema, on the other hand, damages or destroys the lung’s air sacs. The bottom line is that the ability to breathe is severely reduced. In fact, some COPD patients labor so hard to breathe that they develop a protruding “barrel chest.”
Symptoms of COPD include constant coughing; excessive sputum production; shortness of breakth even during activities that aren't strenuous (washing dishes, taking a walk); a constant feeling of breathlessness; and an inability to take a deep breath.