Smoker’s Cough:What You Should Know
What is COPD?
COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is where the lungs have been damaged and that damage cannot be reversed and it continues over time.
Because of this breathing becomes harder as:
- Airways become stiffer, thicker and inflamed
- Airways make more mucus than usual, which can clog them
What does it feel like?
If you have COPD you may have one or more of these symptoms:
- A cough that lasts a long time
- Coughing up mucus (a slimy substance coming up from your lungs)
- Chest tightness
- Wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe)
- Shortness of breath, especially during any kind of physical activity
- Feeling extra tired
- Losing weight without trying
- Frequent lung infections that last longer than for others your age (the flu, acute bronchitis, pneumonia, etc.)
What are Flare-ups?
From time to time you may notice that your usual symptoms suddenly get worse and stay worse or that you develop new symptoms you didn’t have before. When this happens it is called a flare-up or an exacerbation.
Flare-ups can be dangerous, and you may need to go to the hospital. If you have COPD there are things you can do to help avoid dangerous flare-ups.
Two important things you can do are:
1. Avoid catching a cold or the flu by
- Stay away from sick people
- Wash hands often and properly
- Get your flu shot each year
2. Avoid things that trigger your COPD symptoms, e.g., cigarette smoke
What Causes COPD?
With COPD you may have either emphysema or chronic bronchitis, or both. Most cases of COPD, whether emphysema or chronic bronchitis, are caused by smoking.
However non-smokers can get COPD, too. Other possible causes of COPD include:
- Second-hand cigarette smoke
- Long-term exposure to lung irritants such as air pollution, industrial dust and chemical fumes.
- Preterm birth that leads to lung damage (neonatal chronic lung disease)
- Inherited/genetic factors (rare)
What Can I Do?
While there is no cure for COPD, it can be managed.
The most important thing is, if you smoke, you must quit. For most people who quit, quitting can slow down symptoms from getting worse.Next
- Take your prescribed medications. These medications help to keep your symptoms under control.
- Avoid lung irritants
- Secondhand smoke, air pollution, etc.
- Take steps to improve your ability to breathe
- Learn breathing techniques to strengthen lungs
- Eat well and stay active
- Good nutrition and active lifestyle promote healing and lung function
- Learn all you can about COPD
This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances. If you have questions about your symptoms, ask the Pharmacist at Walmart for more information, and/or contact your doctor.
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