How to Determine if You Have COPD
Once upon a time, you couldn’t easily research new symptoms or changes in your health on the internet like you can today. While you should never solely rely on web search results for a self-diagnosis, they can certainly help point you in the right direction. This is especially true if you suspect that you have a condition as serious as chronic inflammatory lung disease (COPD). While COPD is a fairly common condition that affects more than 3 million Americans every year, it actually gets misdiagnosed quite frequently. Not many people spot the early warning signs, chalking them up to other conditions or simply getting older. So, how can you determine if you have early signs of COPD or if you’re being overly cautious? Let’s dive in.
What Exactly Is COPD?
If you suspect that you might have COPD, it’s helpful to first understand exactly what it is. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs. It is a progressive disease that gets worse over time and typically culminates from other conditions such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. While it is a treatable disease, there is currently no known cure.
To determine if you might have COPD, you should know what causes this disease. Long-term exposure to irritants that damage the lungs and airways can lead to COPD. The most notable example of this is smoking, making it the main cause of COPD—about 80 to 90% of all COPD cases are the result of cigarette smoking. However, other factors aside from smoking can contribute to the development of COPD, such as:
- Exposure to air pollution
- Breathing in secondhand smoke
- Working with certain chemicals, dust and fumes
- A genetic condition called Alpha-1 deficiency
- A history of childhood respiratory infection
If you suspect that you have COPD, you might believe that you’ve developed this condition based on the presence of new, unfamiliar symptoms. After all, this situation is what leads most people to seek answers from the internet. People who are suffering from COPD can experience symptoms such as:
- A chronic cough
- Shortness of breath while doing everyday activities (dyspnea)
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Blueness of the lips or fingernail beds (cyanosis)
- Coughs that produce mucus or phlegm
It’s important not to ignore your symptoms, as this is the main cause of delayed diagnoses. Because COPD more frequently affects people over the age of 65, these symptoms often get overlooked or chalked up to simply getting older.
Managing Your COPD
If you do end up being diagnosed with COPD by your doctor, know that there are treatment options available to help you manage your condition. Since simple activities like walking can cause you to feel breathless, going to a doctor’s office for routine treatment may be difficult. Not to worry, because you have the ability to receive in-home treatment for your COPD from the team at DispatchHealth. Our knowledgeable healthcare professionals are ready to provide attentive and prompt care for COPD patients in the comfort of their own homes. We’ll help you manage your COPD exacerbations and can even work closely with your primary care physician and pharmacy to ensure you have any necessary prescriptions. Reach out to DispatchHealth for more information about our in-home care services by calling us or contacting us through our website or mobile app.
DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies. Sources referenced in this article: