5 Things Women Must Know about COPD : COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a serious illness, which includes various types of lung conditions such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and refractory (non-reversible) asthma.
According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, COPD is a leading cause of death in the United States, affecting 16 million Americans. While more than 65 million people around the world suffer from COPD.
Although COPD doesn’t have a cure for the moment, it is still treatable and preventable.
Since women are more likely to suffer from this disease, here is a list of 5 things women must know about COPD:
Women are at a greater risk of developing COPD than men.
Throughout history, COPD was primarily seen as a man’s disease, but now, more women are diagnosed with COPD than men. In addition, because women have smaller lungs than men they are more sensitive to the toxins that cause COPD, such as secondhand smoke or fumes from traffic.
Be Aware of the Symptoms
Believe it or not, around 12 million people around the world have COPD and they don’t even know it. Researches believe this may be due to COPD often being misdiagnosed as asthma or simply because people often neglect the signs and symptoms of COPD and don’t seek medical help.
Symptoms of COPD vary depending on the disease stage, but the most common symptoms are shortness of breath and a persistent cough that keeps getting worse with time. Although, these symptoms may be mistaken for a cold or for simply being out of shape, it is important to address any concerns about your lung health with a doctor.
Your doctor may also refer you to see a respiratory therapist. Respiratory therapists are specially trained medical professionals that focus solely on diseases of the respiratory system. To learn more about the field of respiratory therapy and lung diseases, have a look at Respiratory Cram. This is a fantastic resource that covers respiratory diseases such as COPD.
Smoking, or exposure to second hand smoke is the most common cause of COPD
Smoking is the most common risk factor for development of COPD. In fact, according to the National Institute of Health, 75% of people who have COPD are current or previous smokers. Second hand smoke exposure can also cause COPD. Women and children are especially susceptible to second hand smoke exposure due to the smaller size of their lungs as compared to men. Avoidance of second hand smoke, long term exposure to air pollution and dust can help prevent development of COPD.
Asthma and COPD
Because asthma and COPD symptoms are very similar and may over lap, it can be very hard to distinguish the difference between the two. “When a person presents with a cough, wheeze, and a runny nose, it’s easy to see why doctors think of asthma.” says pulmonologist William McDowell Anderson.
Asthma has a chance of developing into a COPD condition with time. “Asthma is not just a restriction of muscles in the airway, but also an inflammatory disease,” says Dr. Edelman. If you have Asthma, don’t forget to frequently visit your doctor to check your lungs’ health.
Weather you smoke two packs of cigarettes a day, or just a few each day, quitting smoking can yield tremendous benefits, particularly for women. In fact, according to pulmonologist MeiLan Han, women’s lungs might actually see a greater benefit from quitting smoking than men’s lungs do.
Even though quitting smoking may feel impossible, try to remember that your health is at risk. Though it may take more than one attempt, if you do, you will find yourself slowly feeling better, mentally and physically.
Women are at greater risk than men for developing COPD. In fact, COPD related deaths have increased 4x since the year 2000. In addition, COPD has been reported to increase both anxiety and depression, and decrease peoples overall quality of life.
Therefore, awareness of the disease itself as well as the risks associated with smoking or second hand smoke exposure may help women who are at risk of developing COPD.
Damon Wiseley is a respiratory therapist and writer for the medical education website Respiratory Cram.
Related Videos about Things Women Must Know about COPD :
Mayo Clinic Minute: What you need to know about COPD
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in Women
Diagnosis and Evaluation of COPD
What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD?
Causes and Risk Factors of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
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5 Things Women Must Know about COPD
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