MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (WCBD) – Many people are focusing on COVID-19 during the global pandemic, but doctors are now taking the time to explain another respiratory illness that is similar.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) blocks the airflow in your lungs and makes it difficult to breathe.

“You get…this irreparable damage to the air sacs in the lungs so they don’t expand and deflate like they should..trapping air and causing people to have more difficulty moving air in and out of their lungs,” said Dr. Chris Graf, MD in Emergency Medicine with Trident Health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath, fatigue, runny nose, and chest pain among others.

These symptoms can also be found in cases of COVID-19, but doctors have a much better understanding of how COPD works.

Dr. Graf said people could be affected by the disease for the rest of their life and can be triggered by many different factors.

Perfumes, air pollution, smoking cigarettes, and a change in weather can all trigger COPD.

“The weather drops walking outside in the sudden cold, windy weather can really trigger a flare up. My recommendations are to sometimes cover your mouth, cover your face with a scarf if you’re going out in really extreme cold,” said Dr. Graf on the best ways to deal with the colder temperatures.

Doctors have found, since the beginning of the pandemic, people have tried to avoid going to the emergency room for treatment as much as possible.

Trident Health officials wanted to inform the public that they make sure they keep their hospitals as clean as possible at all times and when it comes COPD, or any other illness, it’s always best to receive treatment as quickly as possible.

“Some people do okay and they have home meds they can take but some people flare up and as the flare up occurs, the inflammation can worsen and it can compound on itself. Until people finally seek care, they can become very sick.”

Dr. Chris Graf, Trident Health

Depending on the severity of each case, there are different treatment options available for you when you are seen by a doctor.

“We give them breathing treatments…we give steroids. If people are in severe distress, we put assisted breathing devices on their face to help them move air in and out of their lungs,” added Dr. Graf.

Click here to view more information on COPD.