November is COPD Awareness Month

Share

Lungs

Do you know someone who should know about COPD?

 

COPD is Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), also known as chronic obstructive lung disease (COLD), chronic obstructive airway disease (COAD), chronic airflow limitation (CAL) and chronic obstructive respiratory disease (CORD).  It is the co-occurrence of chronic bronchitis and emphysema, a pair of commonly co-existing diseases of the lungs in which the airways become narrowed according to the US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

 

COPD has risen to the third leading cause of death in the U.S., http://www.nih.gov/news/health/nov2011/nhlbi-21.htm. COPD is a serious lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe and can cause long-term disability and death. The condition is estimated to affect 24 million men and women in the United States — but as many as half of them remain undiagnosed. November marks COPD Awareness Month.

The good news, if it can be called that, is that people are more aware of it than ever, so can get treatment and make lifestyle changes to slow the progression of the disease.

 

Symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Chronic coughing or wheezing.
  • Producing excess sputum.
  • Feeling unable to take a deep breath.

 

According to hte Mayo Clinic, things you can do to feel better to feel better and slow the damage to your lungs:

  • Control your breathing. Talk to your doctor or respiratory therapist about techniques for breathing more efficiently throughout the day. Also be sure to discuss breathing positions and relaxation techniques that you can use when you’re short of breath.
  • Clear your airways. In COPD, mucus tends to collect in your air passages and can be difficult to clear. Controlled coughing, drinking plenty of water and using a humidifier may help.
  • Exercise regularly. It may seem difficult to exercise when you have trouble breathing, but regular exercise can improve your overall strength and endurance and strengthen your respiratory muscles.
  • Eat healthy foods. A healthy diet can help you maintain your strength. If you’re underweight, your doctor may recommend nutritional supplements. If you’re overweight, losing weight can significantly help your breathing, especially during times of exertion.
  • Avoid smoke. In addition to quitting smoking, it’s important to avoid places where others smoke. Secondhand smoke may contribute to further lung damage.
  • Get vaccinated. Respiratory infections can worsen your COPD symptoms. The annual flu shot helps reduce your chances of catching respiratory flu. The pneumonia vaccine lowers your risk of developing pneumonia.
  • Avoid crowds and cold air. If you must go out into a crowd, use a surgical mask to help prevent germs from reaching your lungs. Cold air can trigger bronchospasm and shortness of breath. Put on a cold-air face mask before you go outdoors.

 

Is there someone you can help by making them aware that there is treatment?

Share
This entry was posted in Health, Lungs and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.