Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a term used to describe a host of lung diseases, such as chronic bronchitis, bronchiectasis, some forms of asthma, and emphysema. COPD is most often caused by smoking and inhalation of environmental hazards or air pollution. When COPD is caused by exposure to toxic chemicals and fumes in the workplace, workers’ compensation benefits can provide coverage for lost wages, medical treatments, and prescription medications.
Professions At-Risk for COPD
There are a wide variety of industries that expose workers to toxic fumes and chemicals. The most common professions associated with COPD include:
- Airport tarmac workers
- Oil and gas hydraulic fracturing workers
- Automotive and heavy equipment mechanics
- Autobody workers
- Hair and nail stylists
- Bartenders and waitresses exposed to second-hand smoke
- Sanitation and housekeeping workers
- Factory workers
- Construction workers
Not everyone who works in these industries develops COPD, but the risk for developing the disease is higher the longer a worker is exposed to workplace hazards. Cigarette smoke and vaping are the most common causes of COPD. The longer someone smokes, the higher their risk of developing COPD.
Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment for COPD
The most common symptoms of COPD include:
- Chronic cough with or without heavy mucous
- Shortness of breath with or without exertion
- Chest tightness
- Gray lips and fingernails as oxygen levels decrease in the body
- Recurrent lung infections
- Rapid heartbeat as the body tries to compensate for low oxygen levels
- Changes in mental clarity and alertness
- Extreme fatigue
Symptoms of COPD can be mild in the beginning stages of the disease, but often progress over time. Most victims do not notice symptoms until the disease has progressed to its advanced stages. Diagnosis of COPD must be made by a medical professional, usually a pulmonologist that performs a battery of tests, including:
- Chest x-rays
- Spirometry that measures lung capacity
- CT of the lungs
Treatment for COPD depends on the level of the progression of the disease. Common treatments include:
- Short and long-lasting bronchodilators that relax and open airways
- Pulmonary rehabilitation and lifestyle changes
- Oxygen therapy
What to Do If You Have Been Diagnosed with COPD
If you are experiencing symptoms of COPD, or you have been diagnosed with work-related COPD, consult with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to ensure you receive the maximum level of workers’ compensation benefits available. In some cases, workers’ compensation benefits are initially denied. The appeals process is best handled by an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer that is familiar with federal and state laws.
Strict deadlines for filing claims and presentation of detailed medical records are imperative to a successful workers’ compensation claim for COPD. A successful workers’ compensation claim will provide necessary compensation for lost wages and medical expenses that can quickly devastate the financial health of a victim and their family.
Downingtown Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Wusinich, Sweeney & Ryan, LLC Help Victims of Work-Related COPD Claim Workers’ Compensation Benefits
If you were diagnosed with work-related COPD, call the Downingtown workers’ compensation lawyers at Wusinich, Sweeney & Ryan, LLC at 610-594-1600 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. Located in Exton, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Downingtown, West Chester, Exton, Coatesville, Phoenixville, Malvern, Lyndell, Wagontown, Uwchlan Township, Parkesburg, Chester Springs, Lancaster County, Reading, and Morgantown.