Did you know November is COPD awareness month? About 16 million adults within the United States have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and millions more are undiagnosed. Each year, more than 150,000 people in the United States and more than 3.2 million people worldwide die of the disease.
What is COPD?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), is a term used to describe chronic lung diseases, encompassing emphysema and chronic bronchitis. The disease is characterized by increasing breathlessness according to COPDfoundation.org. Difficulty breathing can be a one of the first signs of COPD. You might feel shortness of breath and tightness in the chest. Taking a deep breath might not come as easy to you as it once did. Learn more about other COPD warning signs not to ignore. COPD can often be prevented. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of COPD. Other causes include long-term exposure to other lung irritants such as air pollution, chemical fumes, or dust.
Why is COPD awareness important?
Each year, COPD kills more than 150,000 people in the United States, making it the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Still, it is only ranked 176th in research funding within the US. Currently, 16 million people are diagnosed with COPD, though many people may have the disease and not even know it. This is why the COPD community comes together each November to promote better understanding this chronic disease. Increasing awareness about COPD and its symptoms is very important because early diagnosis and treatment can improve quality of life.
How can I support a loved one with COPD?
If you have a loved one living with COPD you might be wondering what you can do to help. Watching someone you love deal with breathing complications can be very difficult. Educating yourself on COPD and bringing awareness to the disease is an easy way to show you care. Another way you can support your loved one suffering from COPD is by helping them minimize their flare ups.
- If they are still smoking, encourage them to quit ASAP!
- Exercise with them to help them stay active.
- Make sure they have clean indoor air.
- Help them make their home a COPD-friendly place.
Where can I get more information?
The more you know about COPD, the better you or your loved one can navigate. Seek out advise from your health care provider and other credible sources. Below is a list of some of our favorites.