Blog 11/7/2018

Weekly Clinical Service Dose: November is COPD Awareness Month

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), an estimated 11 million Americans suffer from COPD, and several additional millions likely have COPD and don’t even know it.

Early diagnosis and treatment can help people with COPD improve their quality of life and health.

Sixty-five percent of adults reported that they have heard of COPD, compared to 71 percent in 2011. Among people most at risk for COPD, awareness stood at 74 percent for current smokers and 73 percent for former smokers; in 2011 these values were 78 percent and 76 percent, respectively.

What You Need to Know

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, commonly known as COPD, is an umbrella term for both emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
  • COPD affects more than 24 million Americans, yet many don’t even know they have it.
  • Emphysema is a chronic condition caused by damage to the lungs’ air sacs (alveoli).
  • Chronic bronchitis is a long-term inflammation of the bronchi, the passage which brings air into the lungs.
  • Smoking is the primary cause of COPD, and quitting is essential to prevention and treatment.

Could you have COPD?

The main cause of COPD is tobacco smoke, so if you smoke or used to smoke, you are at a higher risk of having COPD. Exposure to air pollutants like cigarette smoke or outdoor smog in the home or at work, family history, and respiratory infections like pneumonia also increase your risk.

Symptoms of COPD include:

  • Frequent coughing or wheezing
  • Excess phlegm or sputum
  • Shortness of breath
  • Trouble taking a deep breath

If you experience these symptoms, you should discuss them with your physician.

How is COPD diagnosed?

COPD is diagnosed using a simple breathing test called spirometry.

How is COPD treated?

Treating your COPD can greatly improve your quality of life. Treatment options that your doctor may consider include:

  • Quit smoking. For people who smoke, the most important aspect of treatment is smoking cessation.
  • Avoid tobacco smoke and other air pollutants at home and at work
  • Medication. Symptoms such as coughing, or wheezing can be treated with medication.
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation is a personalized treatment program that teaches you how to manage your COPD symptoms to improve quality of life. Plans may include learning to breathe better, how to conserve your energy, and advice on food and exercise.
  • Avoid lung infections. Lung infections can cause serious problems in people with COPD. Certain vaccines, such as flu and pneumonia vaccines, are especially important for people with COPD. Learn more about vaccination recommendations. Respiratory infections should be treated with antibiotics, if appropriate.
  • Supplemental oxygen from a portable oxygen tank may be needed if blood oxygen levels are low.

Early Diagnosis can make a huge impact on this disease connect with you physician.

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