November 2018 marks COPD Awareness Month, an internationally-recognized annual event to raise the exposure of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
If you are concerned you might have COPD, please contact your doctor today.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
COPD describes a group of obstructive lung conditions, characterized by increasing breathlessness due to the airways narrowing.
Living with COPD can be a real challenge, finding what were once simple tasks, such as going up the stairs, a real challenge.
But millions of people across the UK are completely unaware that they have COPD – struggling without treatment, believing it just to be a symptom of getting older.
A variety of risks and hazards can lead to COPD. One of the largest factors is smoking; but other potential causes include: air pollution, genetics and occupational exposure.
Exposure to hazardous airborne irritants such as dusts, chemicals and fumes all dramatically increase the risk of COPD and are believed to account for up to 20% of all cases.
In most cases, it’s believed that COPD could have been prevented if steps were taken to reduce exposure to risk factors – by stopping smoking or minimizing exposure to hazarodous irritants through proper air ventilation and the use of respirators for example.
However, once developed, COPD is a progressive disease and there is no cure.
Signs and Symptoms
Shortness of breath and even coughing could be signs of COPD. If caught early, symptoms of COPD can be well managed. Therefore it is important to talk with your doctor as soon as you notice any of the symptoms below.
In some cases however, COPD can progress for years without any noticeable symptoms.
Common symptoms include:
- Increased shortness of breath, particularly when active
- Frequent phlegmy cough
- Persistent wheezing
- Tightness in the chest
While there currently is no cure for COPD, symptoms and progression can be delayed with the right treatments.
- Stopping smoking – which decreses the risk of death from COPD by 18%
- Supplementary oxygen – to help get clean air into your lungs
- Pulmonary rehabilitation – a specialised programme of exercise and education
- The flu vaccination – to prevent conditions, such as influenza, worsening or complicating your situation.
- Lung surgery/transplantation – while this can be effective, it is only suitable for a small number of people.
In the video above, Chris speaks to the British Lung Foundation about his experiences living with COPD, how he uses oxygen to manage his condition and what support he gets from local healthcare providers.
For more information about COPD, please visit the British Lung Foundation’s website: https://www.blf.org.uk/copdday