COPD diagnosed after smoking for 40 years

I’d like to make a quick comment about how COPD is often diagnosed in people who have smoked for a very long time.

COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is one of the most common medical conditions and it is largely preventable. It is even worse that it is one of the leading causes of death. It is a combination of two other conditions you may have heard about: emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Patients may have a predominance for one or the other.

Unfortunately, despite the serious nature of COPD, many people smoke for many years without being aware of the dangers.

Once COPD is diagnosed, the damage to the airways and lungs is not reversible. Therefore, if COPD cannot be fully prevented, at least it should be caught at the earliest opportunity to stop it from worsening.

I received a comment on the channel which I highlighted in the video above. Someone who had been smoking for 40 years has now finally started experiencing respiratory symptoms (wheezing). Previously they had been well despite the smoking.

Such situations are a damned shame because in most individuals chronic smoking will eventually catch up with health.

What if this is the case for you or one of your loved ones? What if you are in a similar situation?

Probably the first step is to go see your doctor as soon as possible to see what is happening. If you are having respiratory symptoms such as wheezing, coughing that does not go away, significant or unusual breathlessness on exertion, diminished ability to exercise, more tiredness than before – you should check what’s going on. It is always best to know early.

In many cases, COPD is diagnosed in someone who has been smoking for many years and eventually started having increasing respiratory complaints. While other health issues may cause a similar picture, the COPD diagnosis is at the top of the list.

The good news is that COPD treatment, especially in early stages, can be quite effective at managing symptoms. Sure, it may not fix the problem completely, but it can work to maintain a relatively good quality of life.

Stopping smoking, although hard, will actually help tremendously. Getting appropriate counselling and smoking cessation treatment helps to overcome this addiction, and can add many good years to one’s life. If you do develop a smoking-related illness, you must stop, because it is hurting you.

While this post is not very structured, I do hope it offered some context related to how COPD is often diagnosed. I apologize for being to blunt in some of the text above. However as a doctor I am always sad when we have to diagnose a new COPD case that could have been prevented. Please try not to fall into the trap of thinking a disease like COPD can never happen to you.

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