When smokers are always out of breath: COPD begins insidiously
An average of around 70 people die every day in Germany from the consequences of the lung disease COPD. Many patients often do not know about their illness, which usually begins slowly, for a long time. Smokers are particularly at risk.
Over 27,000 killed by COPD
In 2014, over 27,000 people in Germany died from the consequences of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease COPD - that's 74 women and men a day, reports the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA). Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is popularly known as smoker's cough. Many patients are often unaware of their severe lung disease for a long time. It starts slowly.
Shortness of breath even with slight exertion
The most important signs are expectoration, coughing and shortness of breath ("AHA" symptoms), the latter often only occurring at the beginning with physical exertion, but also in the further course during rest.
According to health experts, the complaints differ depending on the severity of the disease. In particularly bad cases, those affected can experience breathlessness even with slight exertion and may need to be supplied with oxygen.
Over time, cardiovascular diseases can also occur in patients due to the poorer oxygen supply to the body.
Smoking is the number one risk factor
Although non-smokers are often also affected, “Smoking is by far the most decisive risk factor for the development of COPD. Around 80 to 90 percent of COPD diseases can be directly attributed to smoking, ”said Dr. Heidrun Thaiss, head of the BZgA, in a message.
Because of the mostly gradual development, the early symptoms are often accepted as side effects of smoking. Persistent cough and shortness of breath should definitely be clarified with a doctor.
COPD is not curable, but the course of the disease can be slowed down. The most important prerequisite for this is to stay away from cigarettes.
"The best protection against COPD is not smoking. A consequent smoking cessation is the most important step in the treatment of those affected, ”said Dr. Thai. (ad)