Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic disease characterized by shortness of breath, cough and sputum production. While symptoms of the disease do not usually appear in people younger than age 55 years, changes to the lung begin many years earlier. COPD is an umbrella term for a number of diseases which include chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a progressive disease that makes it hard to breathe. "Progressive" means the disease gets worse over time.
COPD can cause coughing that produces large amounts of mucus (a slimy substance), wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and other symptoms.
Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of COPD. Most people who have COPD smoke or used to smoke. Long-term exposure to other lung irritants, such as air pollution, chemical fumes, or dust, also may contribute to COPD.
COPD is a major cause of disability, and it's the third leading cause of death in the United States. More than 12 million people are currently diagnosed with COPD. Many more people may have the disease and not even know it.
COPD develops slowly. Symptoms often worsen over time and can limit your ability to do routine activities. Severe COPD may prevent you from doing even basic activities like walking, cooking, or taking care of yourself.
Most of the time, COPD is diagnosed in middle-aged or older people. The disease isn't passed from person to person—you can't catch it from someone else.
COPD has no cure yet, and doctors don't know how to reverse the damage to the airways and lungs. However, treatments and lifestyle changes can help you feel better, stay more active, and slow the progress of the disease.
How to control your breathing
If you know how to control your breathing, you can stay calm when you're short of breath. Pursed-lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing will both help. These breathing methods prevent or reduce the trapped air in your lungs, and allow you to breathe in more fresh air.
Biofeedback Treatment is effective to educate the patient about their condition, enhance deep belly breathing and reduce their stress. Avoiding exposure to toxic chemicals and taking antioxidants can help ameliorate the symptoms of COPD.
Dr. George Grant, Ph.D., I.M.D. is a Specialist in Integrative medicine, Biofeedback & Stress Management