November is National COPD Awareness Month, so it’s an ideal time to take a closer look at this disease to learn more about what it is, how it can be treated, and what improvements are being made to help people suffering from COPD.
COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It affects more than 12 million Americans, and it’s the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. COPD is a term that’s used to describe the obstruction of airflow, and it includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Although COPD can’t be cured, it can be treated. Early detection and diagnosis can help people successfully manage the disease. The American Lung Association created a new toolkit to help patients and their physicians work together to manage COPD. The toolkit, which you can download here, includes a COPD Report Card and a COPD Action Plan that can help improve communication between patients and their doctors so that patients better understand COPD, can recognize the symptoms of the disease worsening, and know the appropriate steps to take.
In the United States, tobacco is a major factor in the development and progression of COPD, although exposure to air pollutants at work and in the home, asthma, genetic factors, and respiratory infections also play a role. COPD is a preventable disease, and some steps people can take to prevent themselves from developing COPD include avoiding tobacco use and inhaling tobacco smoke and avoiding air pollutants in the workplace and at home.
If you suspect you may have COPD, talk to your family doctor, who can administer a simple test to measure your pulmonary function and detect COPD.
Check out the links below for more information about COPD:
- The Breathe Better Network: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/lung/copd/our-partners/index.htm
- The “Learn More, Breathe Better” campaign: http://www.learnaboutcopd.org/