Checking the facts of COPD

Posted by Sunny Khosa, M.D.
August 18, 2015

Sunny Khosa MD

On average, we take 20,000 breaths every day. Our lungs are one of the largest organs of the body, and they do a lot of work 24/7 to keep us alive. If you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), it can change your life. It’s a disease that causes obstructed airflow of the lungs and produces symptoms such as coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.    

Let’s examine a few facts and fallacies regarding COPD so that you can keep your lungs healthy.

1. COPD is caused by smoking.

TRUE. Smoking tobacco with cigarettes, cigars or pipes is, by far, the No. 1 cause of COPD. Over time, smoking does irreversible damage to the inside of the lungs. But there are other causes of COPD, such as prolonged exposure to second-hand smoke, air pollution and occupational dust, smoke or chemical fumes. There are also rare cases of COPD that result from a genetic disorder called alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency.

2. COPD is easy to catch early.

FALSE. COPD develops slowly over many years, so most people are at least 40 years old when actual symptoms begin. At that time, much of the damage to the lungs has already been done. Your doctor may recommend a chest X-ray, CT scan or a pulmonary function test, such as a spirometry, in order to properly diagnose you with COPD.

3. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are the two main types of COPD.

TRUE. Chronic bronchitis is an inflammation and narrowing of the airways that carry air to the lungs. It typically causes a chronic, phlegmy cough and wheezing. Emphysema is a lung disease in which the fragile alveoli (air sacs) in the lungs become damaged. Emphysema typically causes shortness of breath or feeling of tightened airways.

4. COPD can be cured.

FALSE. Once the damage to the lungs has been done, it cannot be reversed. However, COPD can be treated and managed. The first and most important thing to do is eliminate the cause. For most people, that means stop smoking. Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but it’s imperative in order to treat the disease and improve your quality of life. Treatments for COPD include medications, such as inhalers, steroids and antibiotics. COPD patients may also benefit from oxygen therapy or pulmonary rehabilitation. A minority of patients may require surgery, such as a lung volume reduction or a lung transplant.

5. COPD leads to other health concerns.

TRUE. While, for the most part, COPD may not be a killer itself, it can cause other more deadly diseases and conditions. If you have COPD, you are more susceptible to respiratory infections, such as colds, influenza and pneumonia. It also increases your risk of heart disease, lung cancer and high blood pressure.

6. If you have a cough or wheeze, and you’re a smoker, then you have COPD.

FALSE. COPD is commonly misdiagnosed. Former smokers are often told that they have COPD, when they have simple deconditioning of the lungs. Likewise, many people who truly have COPD aren’t diagnosed until the disease is advanced and treatment is less effective. COPD should be diagnosed by a medical professional through a series of breathing tests, radiology scans and other physical assessments.

If you have concerns about respiratory illness, contact your health care provider team.

Sunny Khosa, M.D., is a pulmonologist at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato

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Comments (4)

(MUST READ: HOW I GOT CURED FROM EMPHYSEMA THROUGH HERBAL MEDICINE) I smoked for 17 years, October 2014 i was diagnosed of Emphysema, my doctor told me there is no permament cure for the disease, i was given bronchodilators to help me relax my bronchiolar muscles, I managed on with the disease till a friend told me about a herbal doctor from South Africa who sell herbal medicines to cure all kind of diseases including emphysema, I contacted this herbal doctor via his email and made purchase of the emphysema herbal medicine, i received the herbal medicine through DHL within 5 days, when i received the herbal medicine i applied it as prescribed and was totally cured of emphysema within 18-20 days of usage, the symptoms reduced till i even forgot i had emphysema, i went back to my doctor for diagnosis with spirometry and he confirmed i was free from the disease, contact this herbal doctor via his email or call +27617403481

CLIFFORD - 02/22/2016

HOW CAN I TELL THIS TO THE WHOLE WORLD My name is john holly i was suffering from COPD disease over 3year ago,i went to different hospitals,they could not solve my problem and i was so hopeless and helpless when i was in the river side thinking of what to do a lady walk to me and said what is the problem and i told her everything,she told me about this great man called OGBIDIKI and gave me his email address and i email him,and him told me that every thing we be alright, and that i should put my trust in him and i did what him said, and he told me what to being and i brought every thing that him told me. in two day later i went to the hospital to do the test of COPD i find out that it was negative,so help me thank the great great OGBIDIKI. if you also have such a problem or a problem that is bigger than that email him with this EMAIL, i will hallway continues to share your testimony. thank you doctor my regard to you and your family.

john holly - 02/16/2016

I was diagnosed of Emphysema (copd)9 months ago which affected my breathing badly, my doctor advice me for Lungs Volume reduction surgery (LVRS) because my both upper lobes of the lungs were involved, i was making preparation for this when a friend of mine told me about a herbal doctor from Africa, doctor Unuareghe who prepares herbal medicine to cure all kind of diseases including Emphysema, i contacted Dr Unuareghe via his email and he sent me Emphysema herbal medicine via courier service, when i received this herbal medicine i applied it as instructed and was totally cured of Emphysema within 10 days of usage, i never had to go for the surgery again as i was totally free from emphysema, all thanks to Dr Unuareghe, contact Dr Unuareghe via his email

TAYLOR - 02/12/2016

I have been made aware through some research that there is a medical institution called Lung Institute claiming they can reverse the effects of lung disease such as COPD, which is what I have been told I have. Can you tell me anything about this place and if it has any validity. Thank you, Mary Harriman

Mary Harriman - 12/16/2015

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