COPD is a progressive disease that affects a person’s ability to breathe. While it is true that most people with COPD are or were at one time smokers, 25% of those with this disease have never smoked. Instead, other environmental factors such as chemical fumes or air pollution can play a factor in developing the disease.
COPD Symptoms in Young Adults
Most people who develop COPD are age 40 or older, but younger adults do fall victim as well. Typically, when someone under the age of 40 develops COPD there are genetic conditions involved.
Because age is not a determining factor in whether or not someone develops COPD, it is best to watch for symptoms of the disease instead. Some of the symptoms younger adults should be on the lookout for include frequent coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath even during simple activities.
Additional symptoms include:
- Being unable to perform tasks because of shortness of breath
- Coughing up mucus
- Chest pain when breathing
- General breathing difficulties
COPD Stages in Young Adults
There are 4 stages of COPD in young and older adults. The length of time a person remains in one of the stages can vary depending on the person. Some go through the stages quickly while, for others, it is a relatively long process.
The first stage is considered mild COPD, and a person may not even be aware that they are developing the illness. However, you might have a cough as well as a little phlegm in the morning.
The second stage is considered moderate COPD. During this stage, it is normal to cough more and have additional mucus production. Chances are you will end up going to the doctor to find out why you’re coughing.
The third stage is considered severe COPD. By this time, the disease will have a significant impact on your daily activities and quality of life. You will feel tired and have difficulty doing normal activities.
The fourth stage is considered very severe or end-stage COPD. At this time, you may have trouble receiving oxygen, and your blood oxygen levels can lead to serious issues.
COPD life expectancy really depends on other health factors you may be dealing with. While COPD does shorten one’s lifespan, if you have other serious illnesses, you can expect to live a shorter time than someone with COPD who is otherwise healthy. If you can stay healthy, then the COPD prognosis isn’t as bad.
COPD Treatment Guidelines
Since November is COPD Awareness Month, it is a great time to check out some of the COPD guidelines for treatment. Currently, long-acting bronchodilators and inhaled corticosteroids seem to be the frontline defense. In addition, your doctor may prescribe oral PDE4 inhibitors.
You should always discuss your course of treatment with your doctor if you have any questions, and, now that it is COPD awareness month, it’s a great time to do so.
There is no getting around the fact that COPD is a serious and life-threatening disease, but, with the right care and continued COPD awareness, you can help yourself or a loved one enjoy more of the normal daily activities that they love.