When mismanaged or overlooked, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can lead to severe, potentially life-threatening complications. While COPD primarily affects the airways in your lungs, causing them to become swollen and partly blocked, complications caused by COPD can span far beyond just your lungs.
They can affect not only your lungs but also your heart, body composition, and mental state. To emphasize the severity of possible complications brought on by COPD and to help you quickly identify when they might be happening, below is a breakdown of five potential complications of COPD.
Being a disease that affects the lungs, COPD can cause many respiratory complications. The most common of these include increased cases of cold, flu, and pneumonia. Of these, pneumonia is typically the most dangerous. Pneumonia can be a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection resulting in inflammation of the lungs.
The symptoms of pneumonia include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
To give you an idea of how common pneumonia is in patients with COPD, research has found that pneumonia develops in about 36-percent of patients with COPD during their first flare-up. Furthermore, pneumonia has been found to be six times more likely to develop in people with COPD than in people without COPD.
After contracting pneumonia, you’re also at a higher risk of developing more severe problems, such as sepsis (a potentially life-threatening condition caused by the body’s response to an infection in the bloodstream) and respiratory failure.