Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) describes difficulty breathing due to an airflow obstruction in the lungs in persons with emphysema or chronic bronchitis.
It is estimated that more than 140,000 Mississippians are currently diagnosed with COPD. However, due to the lack of knowledge about the disease by the people afflicted, it is often an under-diagnosed disease.
According to the American Lung Association of Mississippi (ALAM), COPD is the fourth leading cause of death behind cardiovascular disease, cancers and stroke. It claims the lives of 117,000 Americans annually, and is the only disease in which fatalities continue to increase.
COPD often appears in those who have smoked for many years. Symptoms are usually not noticeable, with the exception of a chronic cough. After age 40, shortness of breath occurs during exertion and continues to worsen over time. This can be mistaken for a normal sign of aging, and is usually dismissed.
Repeated and increased coughing will begin to disable patients, who will eventually take longer to recover from the attacks.
Although COPD is treatable, there is no cure for the disease. The best way to fight COPD is prevention.
Symptoms of COPD
The primary symptoms of COPD include chronic cough, shortness of breath, increased breathing effort, increased mucus production, and frequent clearing of the throat. The Mississippi Lung Association urges anyone suffering from these symptoms schedule an appointment for a COPD screening.
Long-term tobacco use is the most common cause of COPD, accounting for 80-90 percent of all cases. A smoker is ten times more likely than a non-smoker to die of COPD. Other risk factors for the disease include occupational hazards, heredity, and second-hand smoke.
For more information: Read more about COPD on the Mississippi Lung Association's website.