Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Pulmonary Care & Treatment at Washington Township Medical Foundation
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is actually a term used to
describe a group of conditions that impair breathing by affecting the
lungs and blocking airflow. COPD is a progressive disease, which means
that it can become steadily worse, causing increased breathlessness. The
most common COPD conditions are emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Some of the symptoms of COPD include:
- Shortness of breath
- Tight chest
Do I Have COPD?
About 30 million people in the United States have COPD—but at least
half of them don’t know it. Many people think that the breathlessness
and coughing they are experiencing is simply part of the aging process.
For this reason, many people do not receive an accurate diagnosis of their
condition for a long time. COPD can cause irreparable damage, but treatment
can be helpful. Shortness of breath is actually an advanced symptom of
COPD. If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, talk with your doctor
as soon as possible.
In the United States, far and away the most common cause of COPD is cigarette
smoking. About 9 in 10 COPD sufferers are current or former smokers. Other
factors include exposure to pollutants—including secondhand smoke—as
well as exposure to chemicals and fumes. There is also a genetic factor.
Some people who have never smoked or been exposed to pollutants can develop
COPD due to a genetic predisposition.