Health Beat - Fall 2019 - 14

Could It Be

Difficulty breathing may be
a sign of low lung function



Smoking is the leading cause of
the lung disease COPD. If you
need help to quit the habit,
visit to
build a personalized plan.

hronic obstructive pulmonary
disease, or COPD, is one of the
most common forms of lung
disease-yet more than half of adults
with low lung function don't realize
they have it.
With COPD, the airways in the lungs
become inflamed, and the tissue where
oxygen is exchanged is destroyed.
This loss of lung function can lead to
difficulty breathing, coughing, mucus
production, and wheezing. Chronic
bronchitis and emphysema are types of
COPD, and some people might exhibit
symptoms of both.
COPD is most common among
smokers-smoking causes about 85 to
90 percent of cases-but Albert A.
Rizzo, MD, chief medical officer of the
American Lung Association, says other
factors such as genetics, air pollution,
and exposure to dust or chemicals in the


workplace can increase a person's
risk for the condition.

When to See a Doctor
So, how do you know whether you
have COPD? The biggest indicator:
shortness of breath. Talk to your doctor
if you experience difficulty breathing
during daily activities-things like
climbing the stairs, carrying groceries,
or taking a walk.
Rizzo says many people don't see
shortness of breath as a cause for concern. "People don't tend to go in to their
doctor and complain about shortness of
breath," he says. They might think that
if they are overweight, out of shape,
or getting older, shortness of breath is
to be expected. But this symptom is
key to detecting COPD early, slowing
its progress, and maintaining overall
lung function.

What to Expect
from Treatment
There is no cure for COPD, but a treatment plan can help manage symptoms.
During your doctor visit, your physician will measure your breathing using
a spirometry test and put together a
care plan based on the results. A COPD
treatment plan can include medication,
a bronchodilator to keep your airways
open, or a pulmonary (lung) rehabilitation program.
Lifestyle changes including quitting
smoking, losing weight, and exercising
more can also reduce stress on your
lungs. Work with your doctor to find a
care plan that is best for you. 1

Health Beat - Fall 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Health Beat - Fall 2019

Health Beat - Fall 2019 - 1
Health Beat - Fall 2019 - 2
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