November is COPD Awareness Month
Breathing is a natural impulse. Most of us don’t give our breathing a second thought; it’s just something our bodies do. But for the 16 million Americans diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD, every breath can be a life or death struggle.
Every November, the American Lung Association sponsors the National COPD Awareness Month. The month-long observance focuses on educating patients and the community about this devastating condition.
Prestige ER joins the American Lung Association and other health organizations to raise awareness and help patients get the support they need.
What is COPD?
COPD is a term used to describe a group of lung diseases that include chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
COPD is a chronic condition that causes inflammation in the lung’s airways. As a result of chronic inflammation, the airways thicken. Over time, the tissue where the exchange of oxygen happens suffers irreparable damage.
When this happens, the body’s oxygen supply decreases, making it more challenging to eliminate the waste gas carbon dioxide. As the disease progresses, shortness of breath makes it harder for patients to remain active.
How Serious is COPD?
COPD is a serious and progressive lung disease and the third leading cause of death by disease in the country.
An estimated 16 million Americans are living with a COPD diagnosis. However, millions more may have the disease without knowing it.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease causes severe long-term disability and, in many cases, leads to an early death.
There is currently no cure. Although age-adjusted death rates for COPD are declining among men, there’s been no significant change in death rates among women.
What Causes COPD?
The leading causes of COPD are tobacco smoking and occupational exposure to dust, chemicals, and fumes from burning fuel.
There are, however, other risk factors, including:
- Asthma: Because asthma is a chronic inflammatory airway disease, it may increase the chances of developing COPD
- Exposure to Secondhand Smoke: Long term exposure to large amounts of secondhand smoke makes non-smoking individuals just as vulnerable to the disease as those who smoke
- Genetics: An uncommon genetic disorder that causes low levels of a protein made in the liver known as alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAt), which helps protect the lungs, is the cause of some COPD cases.
Symptoms of COPD
One of the main concerns is that COPD symptoms often don’t manifest until significant lung damage occurs. Once symptoms appear, these will progressively get worse.
Signs and Symptoms of COPD include:
- Shortness of breath when performing any physical activity
- Chest tightness
- Frequent respiratory infections
- A chronic cough that may produce phlegm that might be clear, white, yellow, or green colored
- Lack of energy, feeling exertion even during mild physical activity
- Frequent swelling in legs, ankles, or feet
- In later stages, patients may experience unintended weight loss
Can We Help Prevent COPD?
Although there is no cure, COPD is a preventable disease because most cases are a direct result of exposure to contaminants such as tobacco smoke, chemical fumes, and dust.
If you are a smoker, we recommend you seek help so you can quit smoking. If you work in an environment where lung irritants are present, use respiratory protective equipment.
We also recommend you get annual vaccinations against the flu and pneumococcal pneumonia to help prevent infections.
When to Seek Medical Attention
Immediate medical attention is advisable when:
- You can’t catch your breath
- Your lips or fingernail beds turn blue
- You experience rapid heartbeat
- Experience mental fog that makes it difficult to concentrate
- Are exposed to a chemical spill or inhaled smoke
Prestige ER is the ideal emergency care center for patients with COPD and other respiratory illnesses. Thanks to our minimal wait times, expert physicians, and state-of-the-art technology, we can provide life-saving treatment faster than hospital-based ER’s.
HealthCare.gov recommends that in case of an emergency, you head straight to the closest ER.
You DO NOT need to get prior approval from your health insurance company.
They will cover expenses barring whatever your deductible and coinsurance/copayments are for emergency treatments.
Prestige ER is open and ready to care for you during an emergency in which your health is significantly jeopardized 24/7, we work with all major insurance companies and our Patient Advocate team is available to help you understand your coverage and rights. We will guide and fight for you every step of the way. For more information regarding your rights as a patient, view our Insurance Information.
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