Chronic Obstruction Pulmonary Disease
03/23/2004

Are you suddenly experiencing shortness of breath during your normal activities? Have you had more colds over the course of the last year? If you answered yes, you could have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

COPD is the fourth leading cause of death and claims the lives of almost 112,584 Americans annually according to American Association of Cardiovascular & Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR). COPD includes emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and asthma –  diseases that are characterized by obstruction to airflow.

Texas Health Resources hospitals offer respiratory and pulmonary services to patients diagnosed with COPD. The pulmonary and respiratory services focus on patient assessment, exercise, education, breathing retraining with functional and daily activities, and psychosocial intervention.

COPD can be a debilitating disease that robs people of their health and independence. Rehabilitation programs and services help to enhance the quality of life for COPD patients.

According to the American Lung Association (ALA), long-term smoking is the most common cause of COPD, responsible for 80 to 90 percent of all cases. Other risk factors are heredity, second-hand smoke, air pollution and a history of frequent childhood respiratory infections.

The ALA estimates that 16 million patients have been diagnosed with some form of COPD and as many as 16 million more are undiagnosed. There is no cure for COPD, but patients can educate themselves on ways to modify their lifestyles to improve their health.

The most common symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath, chronic coughing, chest tightness, greater effort to breathe, increased mucus production and frequent clearing of the throat.

If you experience any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor immediately.