Today is COPD Awareness Day – one of the world’s biggest killers.
The condition, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is thought to affect around 11 million people and is the third biggest killer in America.
COPD is a lung condition typically caused by smoking with thousands of people thought to be suffering from he condition without even realising it.
Here is everything you need to know.
What COPD awareness day is all about
World COPD Day is all about raising awareness of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and improve care for those suffering from COPD.
The day, which first started in 2002, is organised by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) in collaboration with health care professionals and COPD patient groups across the world.
This year’s theme is ‘breathe in the knowledge’ with the day taking place in more than 50 countries worldwide. That means COPD awareness and education events.
What is COPD?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung condition that causes breathing difficulties. This is because the airways narrow, become inflamed and get damaged.
These lung conditions include emphysema, which is where there is damage to the air sacs in the lungs, and chronic bronchitis, which is long-term inflammation of the airways.
It usually affected adults who smoke and many people who have the condition don’t realise until the breathing problems get worse.
Symptoms of COPD
Symptoms include breathlessness when active, a constant chesty cough with phlegm, frequent chest infections, and persistent wheezing.
Symptoms will get worse over time and it is possible there might be flare-ups.
If you have any of the symptoms of COPD, it is important to see your doctor as soon as possible to avoid causing more damage to the lungs.
Testing includes a chest x-ray, CT scan, arterial blood gas analysis and laboratory tests.
How to treat COPD
Damaged caused by COPD is permanent but treatments can help stop the disease progressing. While the condition can’t be cured, the symptoms can be managed. That’s why prevention is key.
Treatments include stopping smoking immediately, using inhalers and medications to make it easier to breathe,
pulmonary rehabilitation which may include exercises, and surgery or a lung transplant.
Surgery and lung transplants are only an option for a small number of people.
More information on treatments here.