Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) affects many people worldwide, but there are many common myths and misconceptions that people may have about the disease.
Whether you or a loved one has been diagnosed with COPD, it is important to understand what myths you may have heard and to learn the reality about COPD so you can better manage it each day.
Here are five common misconceptions about COPD:
1. Only People Who Smoke Get COPD
Some people mistakenly believe that a COPD diagnosis always has smoking-related causes, but that’s simply not true. Smoking may be the cause of COPD for many people with lung disease, however between 10-20% of those currently diagnosed with COPD have never been smokers. Exposure to pollutants in the air (like chemicals, dust, and fumes) and genetic predisposition can also be causes of COPD, among other factors.
2. Only Older People Can Get COPD
Because COPD is a progressive disease—meaning it gets more severe over time—it is more common in people over 40. However, it is not impossible for those younger than that to get COPD. Certain medical or genetic conditions can trigger the onset of COPD at a younger age. If you notice any symptoms of COPD, contact your physician.
3. People With COPD Can’t Exercise
Many assume that exercise is impossible because of the breathing issues that can come with COPD. That’s not true. In fact, aerobic exercise and other forms of movement actually have many benefits for people with COPD, including improving symptoms and increasing energy. It can also help someone with COPD avoid an inactivity cycle that slowly contributes to that person becoming further deconditioned.
Stretching, cardio/aerobic exercise, and strength training are all beneficial. Consult your doctor before starting a new exercise program to help find what will benefit you most and align with your fitness level.
4. COPD is Rare
COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States, and there are more than 16 million people diagnosed around the world. The actual number of people with COPD who have not been diagnosed may actually be much higher. In addition, women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with COPD.
5. COPD is Not Treatable
The idea that COPD is not treatable is simply untrue. While there is no known cure for COPD, there are many effective methods for treating the symptoms of the disease. These include medication, surgeries, vaccinations, self-care, and pulmonary rehabilitation. Pulmonary rehab can be an effective way to combine exercises, breathing strategies, and education to help people with COPD improve shortness of breath and other symptoms.
PEP Buddy: Better Breathing, Backed by Science
PEP Buddy is a simple, portable, clinically proven medical device that reduces breathlessness so you can increase your activity level. PEP Buddy can also help to prevent significant declines in blood oxygen levels during activity.
This blog is for educational purposes only; talk to your provider to understand recommendations specific to you.