Announcer: Have you heard of COPD? It's a serious lung disease that over time makes it hard to breathe.
Diane: I was having problems and I would start coughing and I didn't want to risk having an accident.
Peter: There were times when I would be seriously out of breath and panicky, thinking I'm not going to be able to breath. And Tory, the older one said, "Why are you breathing like that?"
Announcer: It says here that it's the fourth leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the U.S. So, why have you never heard of it? Well, you might have heard of it called by other names like emphysema or chronic bronchitis.
Dorothy: Emphysema people have heard for years. But to hear COPD, I thought, now where is that coming from, what is that?
Diane: The symptoms, the coughing and problems I was having now I know is COPD.
Peter: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, I hadn't heard of it.
Announcer: Now here's the thing -- the number of people with COPD is increasing every year. More than 12 million people have been diagnosed with it and there are 12 million more out there who have the disease and don't even know it. Look, I'm not a doctor, so let's go talk to someone who knows all about this stuff. This is Edna. Throughout her career as a nurse and respiratory therapist, she has worked with many, many people, helping them to improve their lung function. And it just so happens, she has COPD.
Edna: That's right.
Announcer: Alright, Edna, could you please tell me a little bit about how COPD affects your breathing.
Edna: Sure, let me show you. When we're healthy, the air sacs in our lungs are elastic. They bounce back to their original shape after being filled with air when we inhale, just the way a balloon would. But in people with COPD, their sacs no longer do that. They've lost that elastic quality. People with COPD might find that they produce more mucous in their lungs. Both of these factors make it more difficult to breathe air in and out of the lungs.
Announcer: So what should you do if you have some of those risk factors or symptoms that we talked about earlier?
Edna: You know, it's really important that you talk to your doctor and let him know what you're experiencing. And you should also ask about getting a breathing test called spirometry. It's a simple test that can probably be done in your doctor's office.