By Emine Kasapoglu, Public Relations Assistant
– It’s the third leading cause of death in the United States.
– More than 24 million people in the United States have it.
– One in four people over the age of 35 are expected to develop it.
– Women are three times more likely to develop this disease than breast cancer.
Do you think you know what this disease is? It’s COPD – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Startling facts, aren’t they?
November is national COPD Awareness Month but few people know the prevention measures for this disease, let alone what the letters COPD stand for.
COPD is an umbrella term used to describe chronic lung diseases that limit airflow and make it difficult to breathe. The two main forms of COPD are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Emphysema is a disease in which tissues necessary to support the physical shape and function of the lungs are destroyed. Chronic bronchitis is a long-term cough that produces mucus. Most people diagnosed with COPD have a combination of both.
Symptoms and Causes
Common symptoms of COPD are coughing, coughing up mucus or phlegm, difficult breathing and shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness. These oft-experienced symptoms, which can be indicators to a plenitude of disease, also cause COPD to be heavily under-diagnosed.
The risk of smoking rears its ugly head again, this time as the leading cause of COPD. Secondhand smoke, overexposure to a dust, chemicals and air pollution are additional culprits.
A spirometry test is used to diagnose COPD. Spirometry simply measures the amount of air a person can inhale and exhale.
This damage to your lungs can’t be reversed, so treatment focuses on controlling symptoms and minimizing further damage.
Treatment options include: medication, pulmonary rehabilitation, oxygen therapy, smoking cessation, and infection prevention (in the form of flu shots and Pneumococcal Vaccines).
Although treatment is available for COPD, there is no cure. Thankfully, foundations such as COPDFoundation.org are taking proactive measures to save millions of lives by finding a cure.
YOU too can be a part of this movement and bring awareness to COPD by asking a friend or loved one to quit smoking.