The Taiwan Society of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine (台灣胸腔暨重症加護醫學會) yesterday urged the public to be aware of “chronic obstructive pulmonary disease” (COPD) and report to doctors for free check-ups as soon as possible.
“About 70 percent of patients do not realize that they are suffering from COPD, although their symptoms are very severe and obvious,” Tsai Ying-huang (蔡熒煌), chairman of the organization, told a press conference yesterday.
COPD is a progressive and degenerative condition where the airways of the lungs become narrowed, leading to dyspnea (shortness of breath), nonstop coughing, sputum and wheezing.
He said 1.5 million COPD patients did not realize their problem or seek help from a doctor.
Tsai said that physicians divide the symptoms of COPD into a number of stages. The progression of the condition can take as long as eight years, while the patient’s lungs gradually go from bad to worse, possibly ending with lung failure.
“If that happens, the patient will have to rely on oxygen for the rest of his or her life,” Tsai said.
He said symptoms of early COPD were coughing in the morning with shortness of breath, adding that these symptoms are easily ignored.
“If you can hardly catch your breath after climbing 20 steps or walking 50m with a bag of groceries, I suggest you see a doctor for a thorough check up,” he said.
Tsai said that more and more people were suffering from COPD because of air pollution. Certain behavior, such as smoking and cooking, will also cause damage to the lungs.
Free COPD checks for the public are available at: Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Linkou branch; Taipei Veterans General Hospital; China Medical University Hospital, Taichung; Chung Shan Medical University Hospital; Taichung; National Cheng Kung University Hospital; Tainan; and Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital.