Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD is the third leading cause of death in the US

More than 120,000 Americans die from COPD each year. A progressive lung disease with no cure, COPD affects a person’s ability to breathe. Primarily caused by smoking, COPD also can be caused by air pollution and other environmental factors.

Women are 37 percent more likely to develop COPD than men. The number of women who have died from COPD has quadrupled over the last 35 years, according to the American Lung Association. An increase in smoking among women during the mid-1900s may be a factor in the increase as well as biological factors.

COPD Risk Factors  

The following may increase your risk of developing COPD  

  • Smoking
  • Second-hand smoke
  • Asthma sufferers who smoke
  • Air pollution
  • Occupational hazards (i.e. asbestos)
  • Age
  • Genetics

COPD Symptoms

Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are the most common forms of COPD, both of which block the flow of air in and out of the lungs. Common signs of COPD include:

  • Chest tightness
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Blue lips and/or fingernails
  • Excessive mucus in the mornings
  • Frequent respiratory infections

Exacerbations – an intensity of symptoms for days or weeks at a time – are also common with COPD.

COPD Diagnosis and Treatment

COPD is typically diagnosed through a physical exam and specialized tests, including chest x-rays, pulmonary function tests, and CT scans. COPD is often misdiagnosed. While there is no cure for COPD, early detection and treatment can help minimize symptoms and reduce the risk of developing other respiratory diseases, lung cancer, and heart problems. If you suspect you or your loved one may have COPD, contact the Adena Health System at 740-779-7500 to schedule an evaluation.

Ready to quit smoking? Contact your primary care provider or read our tips on smoking cessation.

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