As you’re well aware, there are many reasons that our bodies can become out of breath — from physical activities to the common cold. However, if your breathing issues soon start interfering with your daily life, it is possible that something more serious may be at play – chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). While this medical condition affects over 11 million Americans every year (CDC), it is important to know both why and when to test for COPD before symptoms worsen. Below we discuss the symptoms of COPD and explain what signifies a need for testing so you can get ahead of the issue before any major damage is done.
Understanding COPD and its Symptoms
For those who are unfamiliar with COPD, it is a chronic lung disease that can cause shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing. If we, for instance, look at this CenterWell’s Guide to COPD, we can see how the symptoms will vary not only depending on the individual but also naturally in severity over time. For instance, patients may experience exhaustion, increased respiratory issues during physical activity, or fluctuating periods of barely being able to move without losing their breath. On the other hand, other online resources, as well as doctor consultations, can explain how severe COPD cases may lead to other debilitating issues such as extreme coughing and chest pain.
The Link Between Shortness of Breath and COPD
Feeling short of breath can be really terrifying and lead to a lot of anxiety. It may cause you to worry about how severe the issue is, or whether it’s a symptom of something more serious. One condition that shortness of breath could indicate is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is characterized by a long-term narrowing of the airways, which reduces airflow in and out of the lungs when you breathe. This can bring on feelings of breathlessness even when not engaging in physical activities, especially if your COPD isn’t treated correctly. Hence, it is important to obtain a proper diagnosis and treatment plan if you are experiencing any symptoms of COPD, such as chronic coughing or wheezing.
Why Testing for COPD is Important
COPD can be easily overlooked or even mistaken for other forms of lung problems, such as asthma. An early diagnosis helps prevent further damage, so when out of breath, it is important to consider whether it could be an indication that you are at risk for developing COPD. Testing for COPD can help detect the problem earlier, enabling you to work with your doctor to create an individualized plan for prevention. There are also treatments available that could provide relief from symptoms like coughing and difficulty breathing; these would not be possible without getting tested for COPD in the first place.
Symptoms that Could Indicate You Should Test for COPD
When it comes to breathlessness, many of us don’t think twice about it and dismiss it as normal. But labored breathing can be a sign of serious health issues like COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorders. If you have difficulty catching your breath after simple activities like climbing the stairs or even prolonged activities such as jogging, then you should take note and consider testing for COPD. Also, if you suffer from persistent coughing that produces phlegm along with chest tightness and heaviness, these could be subtle signs of COPD as well.
In conclusion, it’s important to understand the nature of COPD and its symptoms, recognize the link between shortness of breath and COPD, and be aware of why testing for COPD is so important. Although many respiratory conditions like asthma can cause similar symptoms as COPD, it’s especially important to get tested if you’re regularly out of breath, experience a cough that doesn’t go away, or have frequent fatigue or chest pain. If you’re ever in doubt about your condition and are unsure whether or not to get tested for COPD, consulting your local doctor can help ensure that you’re receiving the proper care and treatment if needed. Ultimately, recognizing indicators of COPD early on is key to living a healthy life free from complications.