A recent report put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says that since 1999, the prevalence for deaths caused by COPD, along with hospitalizations and age-adjusted prevalence. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease has been at the #4 leading cause of death. There are an estimated 16 million people who have COPD, but it is suspected that 22 million actually have it and some haven't been diagnosed.
This is the reason why COPD is so dangerous – because many people go for years with the subtle first warning signs of the disease without any real reason to suspect that they have it. Most people with COPD won't suspect that anything is wrong until they start to experience the more obvious symptoms, and this is why many people have severe COPD when they are finally diagnosed.
For this reason, the COPD Foundation and others have tried to spread as much knowledge about this disease as possible for prevention, as well as warning people about their risk of developing the disease. Telling the general public about the early warning signs of the disease so they can get tested early on is another reason why the death rate has been slowly dropping – people who would have allowed the disease to progress to the severe stage are now catching it earlier, which can greatly decrease your risk of death caused by COPD, or the complications that come along with it.
Severe to moderate COPD usually requires a combination of prescription medicine and oxygen therapy, depending on how low the patient's blood oxygen level has dropped.
What are the early signs of COPD?
Continuing to inform the general population about the risks of COPD and the earliest warning signs of the disease will help to keep the death statistics on the decline. It's safe to get checked out if you're experiencing any of these symptoms, especially if you smoke.
- You've started producing an excessive amount of sputum, or the mucous you cough out of your lungs, or it becomes very thick, without having any chest cold or other illness.
- If your sputum has changed color without you having a cold – to yellow, green or if it has spots of blood.
- You have trouble sleeping for more than 2 weeks.
- You're generally feeling run down all the time.
- You are beginning to get short of breath when doing things that didn't leave you winded before.
- You're ankles are swelling for no other reasons.
- You've begun to lose weight and experience a loss of appetite.
After getting tested and it's been determined that you don't have COPD, you should still quit smoking as soon as you can. Smoking causes around 80% to 90% of all known cases of COPD, with the remaining percent caused by a rare genetic condition and pollution. Quitting smoking now, even if you've been doing it for many years, will greatly reduce your risk of developing COPD. You can still develop it later on, but you can prevent it from becoming severe.
Information on this page is for reference and educational purposes only. For more information about COPD, talk to your doctor or primary care provider.