Millions of Germans suffer from the incurable COPD – often without knowing it

Worldwide, about 400 million people have COPD, of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease according to estimates. Especially smokers are affected. The disease begins insidiously, in the worst case, respiratory threatens failure. FOCUS Online explains the COPD causes and symptoms.

An estimated four million people in Germany and 400 million worldwide suffer from COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The disease begins with a cough that gradually becomes more frequent and persistent. Add to this a slimy expectoration, and shortness of breath. In the end-stage respiratory threatens failure.

There is no cure. Therefore, the medicine, the progression of the disease to delay.

"With each effort, the air remains weg"

Depending on the stage COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is a cabinets everyday life greatly, says Norbert stylus, Affected and group leader at the "Patient organisation emphysema-COPD Deutschland" in Frankfurt, Germany. "Every effort will be." The Talk may be for the patient power consuming.

To the physical strain the mental: "If you have shortness of breath and air to get and not get, it means the fear and Panik", stylus says. Many patients suffered from depression or anxiety disorders.

COPD-causes: smokers are particularly affected

"Unfortunately, it is predominantly a disease of the Raucher", Henrik Watz, pulmonologist and scientists of the German center for lung research says. At least in Germany, the cigarette is the biggest risk. "That’s why prevention is so important." Probably every third am prone to fourth smoker in mind, says the lung doctor. Also, some occupational groups such as miners, who are exposed to environmental factors such as particulate matter, are at an increased risk of disease. In other regions of the world, especially in emerging countries in Asia, also apply to the cooking and Heating with open fires as the cause.

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The disease progresses slowly and often goes unnoticed. "Many people live for years with the signs of COPD, without knowing that it’s this serious disease handelt", it is the "Competence centre for Asthma and COPD" in the Hessian town of Marburg. The alarm signs are: coughing, especially early in the Morning, flying off phlegm, and shortness of breath that occurs at first only during physical exertion.

"I thought it was because I was older werde"

"I thought it was because I was older werde" – the Affected reported time and again, says Petra Knöpfle of the Kassel group of the "Patient organisation emphysema-COPD Deutschland". The disease is still too little known.

The lung disease also changes the lives of partners and family: "COPD means 24 hours a day and seven days a week Sorgen", knoepfle, whose husband is affected says. Together the Pair has launched the self-help group in Kassel. "There is no normal life is possible. You can’t make any plans." At any time it could go to the sick poor, a change in the weather. Certain cleaning agents in the house are just as taboo as candles at Christmas. All substances and particles that can clog the lungs even more. FOCUS Online/Wochit Red, blue, brown, pale: What is the color of your ears about your health says

The illness also has social consequences, such as spätzle told. "It is the risk of getting into a spiral of Isolation into the move." Out of fear of the shortness of breath Affected moving less and less and stayed home. In addition, patients must sometimes against accusations from the outside to fight back: if you Hadn’t smoked, would be it then.

COPD is the fourth most common fatal disease

The medicine distinguishes several degrees of severity of COPD: starting with a cough in the Morning and shortness of breath only during heavy physical exertion, to Dissolve the alveoli and permanent shortness of breath – also, every cold can be life-threatening. There is a high probability to die of COPD or comorbidities such as lung cancer, heart disease or stroke, says Henrik Watz. Globally, the COPD is, according to the world health organization WHO as the fourth leading fatal disease.

For the therapy is not part of the burden on the lungs – Smoking or dust. The medicines to allow patients easier air get. In addition, you need to be infections protected, because the aggravate the disease. So the Affected are in need of a good vaccination status. Especially important is regular exercise and specific lung sport, but pulmonologist Watz says. "This is the A and O. " Otherwise, the patient fell into a fatal downward spiral.