Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD for short, is one of the most commonly diagnosed lung diseases. There are two primary forms of COPD:
- Chronic Bronchitis: With chronic bronchitis, people develop a cough that remains for an extended period and involves mucus.
- Emphysema: With emphysema, the lungs are slowly being destroyed over time.
With COPD, most patients suffer from a combination of both of these conditions, which makes breathing extremely difficult and painful. Most cases of COPD are caused by smoking, although some cases are related to a missing protein (alpha-1 antitrypsin), which is a genetic disorder. Additionally, some people develop COPD after long-term exposure to one or more of the following:
- Second-hand smoke
- Other smoke (non-cigarette exposure, such as machinery or fire smoke)
- Industrial fumes or gases
People with COPD suffer from several symptoms that develop gradually and worsen over time and with exertion:
- Persistent coughs
- Extreme fatigue
- Chronic respiratory system infections
- An inability to catch their breath
If you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, you know how serious this chronic illness is. Not only does COPD make it hard to breathe, but people with COPD can also experience an arrhythmia, need to have portable oxygen units with them at all times, develop heart swelling and heart failure, become sick with pneumonia, develop a pneumothorax, experience severe weight loss, and suffer significant osteoporosis. With so many potential complications, it’s imperative that people wear medical ID jewelry to communicate the baseline condition of COPD to EMTs and emergency room personnel. In addition to being able to administer the right treatments more quickly with this information and being aware of the multiple medications a COPD patient may be taking, knowing that a patient’s difficulty breathing is his or her baseline as opposed to a new symptom will help the patient avoid unnecessary tests and delays in treatment.