It might surprise you to learn that COPD is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Often, COPD is preventable—that’s why it’s so important to know the facts.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a serious lung disease that disrupts normal breathing and affects more than 24 million Americans, but many people don't know much about it. In fact, almost half of people with COPD haven't been diagnosed. Can you separate myth from fact?
Myth 1: COPD is one single disease affecting the airways.
In fact, COPD is an umbrella term that covers several progressive lung diseases, including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and others.
Myth 2: Smoking is the one thing that leads to COPD.
While smoking is the primary cause of COPD, it's not the only one. Most cases of COPD are caused by inhaling pollutants like tobacco smoke, plus fumes, chemicals, and dust found in some work environments. Genetic factors play a role, too, meaning COPD can sometimes develop in people who have never smoked or been exposed to lung irritants.
Myth 3: As we get older, it gets harder to breath.
That's not the case. Breathing problems can occur at any age and accompany many health conditions, but they are a primary symptom of COPD. Other symptoms include frequent cough, chest tightness, fatigue, and excess mucus. If you experience symptoms of COPD, talk to your doctor about getting tested.
Myth 4: You don't need a specialist to treat COPD. Lung specialists, called pulmonologists, have the training, skills, and experience to find the best treatment plan for your COPD. By using Healthgrades' Guided Physician Search, it's easy to find a pulmonologist who's the best fit for you.
Myth 5: People with COPD aren't fit to exercise and should avoid exerting themselves.
It may seem counterintuitive, but actually, exercising could help people with COPD in many ways. It could improve circulation so the body uses oxygen more efficiently, and build up your energy levels so you can do more without getting tired. Ask your doctor about finding the right exercise plan for you.
Myth 6: Since there's no cure for COPD, treatment doesn't work either.
That's not true. Treatment options like smoking cessation, medications, and oxygen therapy all do their part to improve your lung health, preserve lung function, and help you feel better. If you're not currently treating your COPD, it's not too late to start.
Remember, it's easy to find the right doctor at Healthgrades.
Medical Reviewers:William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Review Date:11-06-2015