When you mention killer diseases, most people think about cancer or HIV/AIDS. It might surprise you to learn that WHO ranked Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) as the 4th leading cause of death in the world in 2015. The actual number of people suffering from the disease is over 3 million worldwide. The sad fact is that more than half of these people are unaware of their condition.
Knowing about this disease will help more people take measures to prevent it. Those who are already sick should be able to learn how to relieve the symptoms of the disease to ease their suffering.
Important Facts about COPD
Smoking accounts for over 90 percent of COPD cases
Smoking, whether first hand or passive, is the biggest cause of the disease. COPD is not one of the lifestyle diseases that only affect people from the West. According to research, many people living in traditional settings in enclosed smoky rooms end up dying from the disease. So the logical step would be to quit smoking if you already are a smoker, and avoid staying in smoky areas.
COPD is often misdiagnosed
In the initial stages of COPD, people experience shortness of breath, and this can easily be misdiagnosed. In fact, many COPD patients are treated for asthma due to misdiagnosis.
That being said, it is important to visit your doctor once you start breathing hard after a short walk or a climb of the stairs. This should be even more urgent if you are a smoker, a former smoker, or have a family history of the disease.
COPD patients also cough a lot, experience wheezing, and have a tight feeling in the chest. They also tend to frequently clear their throats of mucus in the morning.
COPD has no cure, but it can be managed
There is no way to reverse the damage done to the lungs. On the bright side, patients can improve their general life experience by engaging in exercise. The key symptom of COPD is shortness of breath, and lung capacity can be improved by engaging in regular physical activity. It is very important to remember that exercise will not reverse the disease but just help control it, so prevention is still very important. And it is equally important to diet properly, take your medications as advised and get vaccinated against related diseases such as influenza and pneumonia.
The disease mostly affects people between 40 and 49
COPD is commonly diagnosed in people over 65 years old. However, this is usually when the disease has developed to severe levels. According to research, most patients get the onset of COPD in their 40s, and then for years, the disease can generate just mild symptoms for a person to notice that there is something wrong and go to the doctor.