November is National COPD Awareness Month, an internationally-recognized event held annually to enhance exposure around COPD.
What is COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)?
COPD is the name for a group of diseases that restrict air flow and cause trouble breathing and includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. More than 16 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with COPD, and millions more suffer from the disease but have not been diagnosed and are not being treated.
What are the symptoms of COPD?
• Chronic cough that may produce mucus (clear, white, yellow or greenish)
• Shortness of breath
• Chest tightness
• Blueness of the lips or fingernail beds
• Frequent respiratory infections
What causes COPD?
The main cause is tobacco smoke, so those who smoke or used to smoke are at a much higher risk of having COPD. Additional things like exposure to air pollution, family history and respiratory infections also increase your risk.
How is COPD diagnosed?
COPD can be diagnosed with a simple test called spirometry. This test can be used to measure pulmonary function and detect COPD in anyone with breathing problems.
How is COPD treated?
For those who smoke, the most important part of treatment is to stop smoking. Symptoms such as coughing or wheezing can be treated with medications. Even with ongoing treatment, there may be times when symptoms become worse for days or weeks. This is called an acute exacerbation. Exacerbations may be caused by a respiratory infection, air pollution or other triggers of inflammation. Regardless of the cause, it is very important to seek prompt medical help if you notice a sustained increase in coughing, change in mucus or difficulty breathing.
Tobacco Free Florida offers free supportive services on your road to smoking cessation. Walk in to one of our urgent care centers today and speak with a healthcare provider about your options.