You might have thought you had yet another bout of bronchitis, but then you received some startling news. Your doctor diagnosed you as suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and told you that it's progressive, which means that it only gets worse.
What is COPD and what causes it?
COPD encompasses two main pulmonary conditions:
- Emphysema: Damage to the walls between the air sacs in the lungs makes the sacs floppy and lose their shape. The walls of the air sacs themselves can also sustain damage. Instead of having numerous small air sacs, you might have larger and fewer air sacs. This compromises your ability to breathe.
- Chronic bronchitis: The lining of your airways continuously suffers from inflammation and irritation. This causes the lining to thicken and a great deal of mucus production, which makes it difficult for you to breathe.
Most people diagnosed with COPD suffer from both conditions. In addition, most people who suffer from COPD smoke or smoked. However, exposure to other lung irritants (such as chemical fumes, dust or air pollution) over an extended period can also cause this disease.
This condition sneaks up on you because it develops slowly. You might not even realize at first that something is terribly wrong. As your ability to breathe comfortably decreases, you find yourself unable to engage in more and more activities without becoming winded or ending up in the hospital needing respiratory assistance and therapy.
Is it curable? Can the damage be reversed?
No. Unfortunately, researchers have not yet found a cure for the condition, nor do they know how to reverse the damage. Fortunately, lifestyle changes and some treatments can slow the progression of the condition and allow you to live more comfortably. You should know that you aren't alone. Millions of people suffer from COPD, which makes it a major disability.
Did you know you could receive Social Security Disability benefits if you suffer from COPD?
Breathing difficulties might already keep you from working. You might wonder how you will make ends meet. You could qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, which could relieve your financial pressure.
The challenge most people have — whether here in North Carolina or elsewhere — when applying for benefits is ensuring that they provide sufficient evidence of their condition and its severity. Understanding what evidence the Social Security Administration needs in order to approve benefits for you often requires a seasoned SSD attorney. You could benefit from enlisting the aid of such an attorney in order to help ensure that you don't experience unnecessary delays in receiving your benefits or an outright denial.