Treatment for COPD

11 million Americans suffer from COPD (Photo: Danner Evans).

LYNCHBURG, Va (WSET) - Every step Mike Grant used to take was a struggle.

"I'd get up every morning and try to get up on the edge of my bed and I would pray to God he would take me before I had to start my day,” Grant explained. “That's how bad it is.”

43 years of smoking left Grant with COPD. He's one of 11 million people suffering from it in the U.S. according to Centra’s respiratory therapist Cheryl Burnette.

“There’s probably another 5 million that don't even know they have it and attribute their shortness of breath to aging or being out of shape."

But that wheezing, shortness of breath, and inability to do things you use to be able to do could be signs of something far worse.

That’s why Burnette said it's important to not ignore those signs of COPD and see your doctor.

“What happens is people with COPD, they become short of breath and do less,” Burnette said. “There for they are able to do less when they start their normal activities.

While there is no cure for COPD, pulmonary rehab can help.

They help build muscle strength again – which is important because tired muscles need more oxygen. But they also teach you how to breathe easier, manage stress and stress how good nutrition can affect your lungs.

Grants COPD was so bad that once he quit smoking, he had a double lung transplant last year.

"I had gotten so bad I was down to 13% of my own lungs,” Grant said.

But now he's breathing easy again thanks to that lifesaving transplant and following up with pulmonary rehab.

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