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Coughing. Wheezing. Shortness of Breath.
For many people familiar with COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, it may be clear that these are symptoms. But to many more people nationwide, these signs can seem to be from a common cold, being out of shape, just getting older. Therefore, they may be less likely to bring these symptoms up to their health care provider because they don't think it matters. At the same time, providers may not know their patients are dealing with these problems. As a result, many Americans that have COPD go undiagnosed, and their quality of life worsens unnecessarily.
COPD is a serious lung disease that over time makes it hard to breathe. Also known as emphysema or chronic bronchitis, COPD is the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States. Symptoms include constant coughing (smoker's cough), shortness of breath during typical daily activities, wheezing, inability to take deep breaths, excessive sputum production and feeling like you can't breathe. If you or someone you know has these symptoms the best next step you can take is to talk to your doctor or health care provider.
"We urge you to pay special attention to how you are breathing, especially if you become short of breath during your daily activities. Learn more about the symptoms of COPD and if they sound like you, start the conversation with your health care provider. Talking about any symptoms you may be experiencing will help them help you," said James P. Kiley, Ph.D. Director, Division of Lung Diseases, at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health. "While there is no cure for COPD — early diagnosis and treatment can help people with COPD improve their symptoms, cut down the flare-ups of the disease (exacerbations) and get back to the things they love doing."
COPD can be diagnosed with a simple, non-invasive breathing test called spirometry. If you or a loved one experiences any of the symptoms of COPD, take some time to learn more about it. Tell your doctor about any symptoms or issues you may have performing daily tasks due to shortness of breath. With proper diagnosis and treatment, people with COPD can live longer and improve their quality of life.
You can find out more about COPD by visiting /health/educational/copd/index.htm. This website is part of the COPD Learn More Breathe Better® awareness campaign from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.