Take a deep breath in – and out. Breathing isn’t easy for everyone, especially those with COPD. COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and it’s talked about a lot these days for a good reason. According to the American Lung Association, the third leading cause of disease-related deaths in the US is COPD.
Many times, people think they are just “getting older” if they are experiencing progressive shortness of breath or are becoming intolerant of activities they once performed. However symptoms like a chronic cough, excess mucus, wheezing, and shortness of breath can be warning signs of COPD. Early detection and management can help those with COPD live a more enjoyable and longer life.
Smoking is not the only risk factor for COPD. In the Midwest, we are blessed with clean air most days. However irritants, like crop dust and chemical fumes, put people at an increased risk for COPD. Think about the last time you or someone you know was doing field work, or deep cleaned your house. Did they wear a mask or handkerchief to breathe through? Other common irritants include:
- Outdoor air pollution from fires, vehicles, home emissions, and businesses emissions
- Indoor air pollution from wood burning, cleaning supplies, dust, mold, pet dander, and secondhand smoke
Many times the media will report the state of outdoor air pollution. When it comes to occupational hazards (like inhaling dust from moldy crops) and indoor irritants make sure the area is well ventilated before you begin your project. If you’re cleaning your bathroom, turn on the exhaust fan. If you’re welding in your garage, make sure you have lots of ventilation.
If you are showing symptoms of COPD, it is important to be seen. Modern medicine and proper management of COPD can decrease symptoms, and lengthen life.