November is COPD Awareness Month; Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, commonly referred to as COPD, is a serious lung disease that makes it hard for people to breath. COPD can also be referred to as chronic bronchitis or emphysema. When you have COPD, the airways are partially blocked so it makes it hard to get air in and out of your lungs. COPD can cause serious long-term disability and early death. COPD is the 3rd leading cause of death in the US.
Symptoms of COPD:
• A chronic, persistent cough
• Increased mucus
• Shortness of breath, especially during physical activity
• A tight feeling in the chest
Causes of COPD:
• Smoking cigarettes
• Smoking cigarettes with asthma
• Breathing in large amounts of chemicals or fumes
If you smoke and have COPD, the most important thing that you can do is to stop smoking. You will notice an improvement in your breathing quickly.
Treatment for COPD:
• Bronchodilators (medicines that open your airways)
• Corticosteroids (medicines that reduce swelling in the airways)
• Pulmonary rehab program
Other things that will help you live a healthier life include:
• Get a flu shot every year.
• Get the pneumonia shot.
• Keep your weight normal.
• Get some exercise. Check with your doctor about what kind of exercise is best for you.
• Pace your activities so that your lungs do not work too hard.
• Reduce stress and relax.
• Get emotional support.
For more information, contact the American Lung Association at 1-800-586-4872 or online at lungusa.org or contact the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute online at nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/lung/index.
For more health and wellness tips and information, visit northendwaterfronthealth.org.