The official blog of the Lung Institute.

COPD is Not a Normal Sign of Aging

9 May 2014
| Under COPD | Posted by | 6 Comments
COPD and aging

Some parts of aging are just inevitable. Maybe you’re turning into your mother, or your hair is getting greyer, or you’re moving just a little bit slower. But what about difficulty breathing, constant coughing and shortness of breath that comes with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)? They are not normal symptoms of aging. It is a relief to know that COPD is not a normal sign of aging.

Why COPD is Not a Normal Sign of Aging

With aging, it is true that there is some airflow limitation. Peak pulmonary function happens around age 20, so from there we are all decreasing our airflow, albeit slowly and slightly. This happens due to the increasing rigidity of the chest wall as we age, and the decreasing elasticity of the lung. However, these changes are not very noticeable. When shortness of breath, constant coughing or other symptoms are present, then it is not just aging.

Undiagnosed COPD

Too many people are silently living with COPD. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, estimates that there are about 12 million people diagnosed with COPD in the United States. Also, there is an estimated 12 million people living with undiagnosed COPD.

Check Your Symptoms

The following are signs of COPD:
  • Shortness of breath
  • A persistent cough (may be worse in the winter)
  • Becoming winded walking up the stairs

Too many people dismiss their symptoms or simply put up with them. Many people write off their symptoms as:

  • Regular aging
  • Being out of shape
  • Smoker’s cough

It is important to know the difference, but it can be difficult. This is because COPD is a progressive disease. It starts with a cough that won’t go away, which many dismiss as smoker’s cough. Later, shortness of breath occurs during normal activities like walking. These symptoms, unfortunately, are easy to ignore because they aren’t too severe. The cough may continue and produce mucus. Over time, the symptoms of coughing and shortness of breath worsen to the point that they are severe and limit activities.

If you have started giving up on your normal activities because of your breathlessness, then it’s time to see your doctor. Regular aging  does not mean that you are unable to walk up a flight of stairs without feeling like you’re going to pass out.

Many people are scared to seek a diagnosis, but the sooner you are diagnosed, the sooner your quality of life can improve. If you have any symptoms similar to the above, and especially if you’ve had them for a few years, it’s important to get checked.

If you or a loved one has COPD or other lung disease and want to learn more about treatment options, contact us or call (800) 729-3065.



  1. PB

    5 months ago

    Hello Marni,

    Thanks for your question. We would be happy to answer any questions you have about stem cell treatment options today, so feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 to speak one-on-one with one of our qualified patient coordinators. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  2. Marni

    6 months ago

    I Have 30% Lung capacity left. COPD/Emphysema. Would I be a canidate for stem cell?

  3. PB

    6 months ago

    Dear Des,

    Thank you for your comment. At this time, we are not aware of any clinics in South Africa which are using stem cells to treat COPD. However, consider discussing treatment options, your symptoms and any questions or concerns you have with your doctor. He or she will be able to guide you best because your doctor knows you and your health situation well. Feel free to keep checking in with our blog to read more articles on a variety of subjects to help people with lung diseases feel better. We wish you the best.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  4. Des Aucamp

    6 months ago

    I live in South Africa and have COPD. Would like to know if stem cell is available in this country. Thank you.

  5. Cameron Kennerly

    11 months ago

    Hello Paula,

    Unfortunately at this stage it is not. However, many of our patients have been able to find the resources necessary to get treatment through the help and expertise of our patient coordinators. Please feel free to contact us at 1-855-313-1149 for more information.

    Looking forward to hearing from you Paula,

    The Lung Institute

  6. Paula Hughes

    11 months ago


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