Article Review: Recognizing the Symptoms of COPD

24 09 2010

If you know me, you know some of my closest buds have this. The article was tiny and scant, but not terrible. Before I get jumped all over, I couldn’t put in other causes etc because I had to go from the article…but you can always ask me for the original article …



Magazine: The Johns Hopkins Medical Letter: Health After 50 – July 2009 – Volume 21, Issue 5

Article Title:  “Recognizing the Symptoms of COPD”


Although chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the most common lung disorder in the United States, many people do not realize they have it.  COPD is a progressive condition affecting the lungs that makes every day tasks from walking to housework difficult to perform.  Breathing becomes increasingly difficult as the lung’s bronchioles become inflamed, mucus production is increased, and the walls between the smallest airways (bronchioles) breaks down. The cause of COPD is long-term exposure to environmental irritants, especially cigarette smoke. Through early detection and treatment, there is the potential of some reversal of lost lung function, but it is not a guarantee. Early detection is difficult because symptoms of COPD resemble common conditions like bad colds or respiratory infections, so doctor visits are rare. If symptoms last for more than a month, and there is long-term exposure to environmental irritants, pulmonary function tests will determine air consumption and lung efficiency in processing it and transferring oxygen to the blood.

Four Main Points:

  1. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the most common lung disorder in the United States. Although it is a chronic progressive disease, some of the lost lung function might be reversed through early diagnosis and treatment.
  2. Environmental irritants, especially cigarette smoke, primarily cause COPD.
  3. Most Common Symptoms
    1. Chronic “Smoker’s” Cough
      i.      A hard, phlegm-producing cough that starts deep in the chest, not at the back of the throat that is worse in the morning and during exertion
       ii.      Chronic is a condition lasting more than three week
    2. Dyspnea – Shortness of Breath during physical activity leading to exhaustion
    3. Wheezing
       i.      Narrowed airways causing a whistling sound during breathing.
  4. Pulmonary function tests are required to determine lung function and oxygen transfer. Testing is required to rule out chronic bronchitis or COPD.

 Learn and Application to Clients and Self:

I have experience with people with COPD who are athletes. This is not a “death sentence” and a great deal more common than many people think.  The exposure to cigarette smoke is mentioned in the article, but there are people never exposed to cigarette smoke who have COPD. Symptoms will manifest during a workout session, so logging in their notes when they were having problems might help medical professionals. Early detection is the key. Treatment, including regular exercise, is key, but it all starts with accepting that a common cough might not be.




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