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It’s important to know the warning signs of COPD, and more importantly when it’s time to act.
The unfortunate reality of many who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is that they often receive their diagnosis only when the disease has fully developed. As we’ve mentioned before, the hallmark signs and symptoms of COPD can often be confused with the natural aging process. Due to this delayed diagnosis, the symptoms of COPD in its earliest stages (1 and 2) can dramatically worsen into Stage 3 or 4 as the disease progresses without intervention. Although the patient is often unaware of this silent progression, COPD is a disease that requires swift and decisive action to maintain and prolong one’s quality of life. The fortunate news is that if diagnosed and treated early using traditional or alternative treatment options, disease progression can be significantly slowed.
With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to give you the warning signs of COPD, how to detect it and what to do if you receive a positive diagnosis. Here are the Signs of COPD: How to Know When It’s Time to Get Help.
So, What Are the Warning Signs of COPD?
The biggest problem in addressing COPD is that fact that it’s often undetected until it becomes a more serious problem (Stage 3 or 4). This is a result of early symptoms of COPD being attributed to the natural aging process. People finding themselves having more trouble getting up the stairs may see themselves as just getting a bit older. Because these symptoms come upon lightly in their initial stages, they are often easy to outright ignore at first.
When gauging one’s pulmonary health, keep an eye out for these COPD respiratory symptoms:
- Frequent coughing (increased phlegm build-up)
- Tightness in chest
- Fatigue and shortness of breath
- Inability to take a deep breath
- Ankle swelling
- Difficulty breathing while lying down
- Weight loss
- Frequent respiratory infections
Tips to Detect the Signs of COPD
Aside from paying close attention to one’s symptoms, the best method of detecting the signs of COPD early is to get a professional opinion. This means it’s time to go see your doctor. A wise practice when visiting the doctor is to request a spirometry test. A spirometry test is part of a pulmonary function test. This will give you a clear indicator of where your respiratory health is and what may read as abnormal. The benefit to requesting this test is that any discrepancies in your respiratory health can be addressed and explored with your doctor quickly, giving you time to examine your treatment options if necessary.
Dealing with a Positive COPD Diagnosis
For those who have been recently diagnosed with COPD, knowing what’s ahead can be difficult to wrap one’s mind around. However, in the case of COPD, knowing about the existence of the disease at its earliest stages are crucial to mitigating the gradual damage as much as possible. Regardless of whatever stage you may have been diagnosed, it’s important to remember that each individual with COPD is uniquely different in how their disease will progress and affect them. With that in mind, at any stage of COPD diagnosis, it’s never too late. Changing your lifestyle can be incredibly difficult, but it’s far from impossible. Quit smoking immediately, avoid hazardous respiratory conditions, improve your diet and seek treatment.
Knowing what’s ahead is critical in developing an efficient treatment plan for COPD. Although the daily symptoms and exacerbations of COPD can be beyond challenging, new discoveries are being made every day in the field of stem cell research, and the first step to living a longer life is finding a treatment that addresses the disease head-on. Whether changing one’s diet, consistently exercising or quitting smoking, improving one’s personal health is the best form of preventative treatment available. However, if you’re looking to address COPD progression directly, it may be time to consider stem cell therapy. Rather than only addressing the symptoms of lung disease, stem cell therapy directly affects disease progression and can improve quality of life and pulmonary function. For people with lung disease, a change in quality of life could mean the difference between struggling to walk to the mailbox and riding a bike.