COPD Awareness Month

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, makes breathing difficult for 16 million Americans. COPD is a progressive, chronic lung condition that can include emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It is the #3 cause of death in the United States.

What is COPD?

Smoking is the most common cause of COPD. About 75% of people diagnosed with COPD are smokers, or used to be. However, nonsmokers can develop COPD through exposure to pollutants. That can include secondhand smoke

One of the earliest signs of COPD may be what’s known as a “smoker’s cough” — a nagging cough that won’t go away. Shortness of breath is another. Wheezing and a feeling of tightness in the chest are other warning signs. Spirometry is a simple procedure that can test for COPD.

If your primary care physician thinks you might have COPD, they may refer you to a pulmonologist.

COPD can’t be cured, but it can be treated

COPD can’t be cured, but it can be treated

COPD can be treated. You may be surprised to learn that how you eat can affect your breathing. Choose complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Avoid simple carbohydrates like sugar and refined flour (white bread, cakes, and cookies, for example). This will help you get enough fiber.

Walking is a safe and healthy exercise for people with COPD. If you get short of breath, stop and rest for a few minutes. Gradually build up your exercise to increase strength. 

Talk with your doctor about medications, too. There are inhalers, breathing exercises, and strategies that can help you stay more comfortable.

The single most important thing you can do to avoid COPD is to stop smoking. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you smoke now, talk with your doctor about ways to stop. The Great American Smokeout for 2021 is on November 18th. Join millions of Americans in giving up smoking for this one day…and maybe forever.