Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, includes respiratory conditions such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, bronchiectasis, or all three combined. It involves the swelling and inflammation of the airways, which narrows them and produces thick, sticky mucus. These conditions hinder the air in the lungs from being exhaled completely and effectively.
This narrowing of the airways is many times the result of breathing in irritating fumes and allergens, such as perfumes, household cleaning fumes, smoke, and pollens in the air. Because these irritants are always in the air, people with COPD never get complete relief of their symptoms—even when taking medications for their breathing condition. What is more, symptoms can be worsened by other health conditions like congestive heart failure and pneumonia.
It is estimated that around 24 Million Americans have some form of COPD, but unfortunately, half are not even aware that they have it. This is because most people neglect to mention their breathing problems to their doctor—mistakenly believing that their symptoms are only the result of being out of shape or just getting older. And for those who have been given medications to treat their symptoms, they often fail to take their medications as prescribed—stopping once they begin to feel better, or incorrectly thinking that their breathing condition is not all that serious.
Although COPD symptoms never completely go away, the disease can be effectively treated and kept from getting progressively worse. Taking the correct medications, learning to breathe and relax when short of breath, eating properly, and by staying active, a person with COPD can greatly lessen their symptoms and live a fuller, healthier life.