Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is one of the leading health conditions in Starke County. IU Health Starke Hospital Respiratory Therapist Brittany Ward says smoking is the biggest contributing factor, but environmental and occupational triggers can also cause COPD. It has two components — chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Patients can have one or both. Ward says emphysema is more common in smokers.
Ward says shortness of breath is the main symptom of COPD. Others include wheezing, chest tightness and a chronic cough, meaning that you pretty much cough all the time. Also a Lack of energy, fatigue, painful breathing, shortness of breath, frequent respiratory infections, weight loss and morning headaches are indicative of COPD.
There’s no cure for COPD, but it can be managed. Ward urges anyone with problems to quit smoking immediately. She says respiratory therapists are available around the clock at IU Health Starke Hospital to answer any questions you may have about the disease.