St. Paul – November is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) awareness month and the American Lung Association in Minnesota is working to educate all Minnesota populations about the symptoms and treatment for this serious lung disease. The two most common COPD conditions include chronic bronchitis and emphysema. COPD is a progressive disease that makes it difficult to breathe due to airflow obstruction in the lungs. Currently, COPD is the 4th leading cause of death in the United States and is the 2nd leading cause of disability.
Many people pass off symptoms of COPD as signs of aging. Symptoms might include feeling short of breathe climbing stairs; getting tired while walking; or having a cough that will not go away. If you experience any of these symptoms or have risk factors of smoking or environmental exposure including second-hand smoke and car exhaust you might have COPD.
It is treatable and an early diagnosis can improve a patient’s daily living. To diagnose COPD, doctors use a lung function test called spirometry. Spirometry is a painless test that measures how much air and how fast the air is blown out.
“COPD is a widespread and costly disease with more than 12 million Americans diagnosed and millions more with symptoms who have not yet been diagnosed,” explains Jill Heins, American Lung Association. “One out of 25 Minnesotans over the age of 45 have COPD and emergency department visits have increased 250 percent in the past decade.”
Schedule an appointment with your doctor if you or a loved one is experiencing: Chronic cough that sometimes produce sputum; Shortness of breathe; Struggle to take deep breaths; or Wheezing.
COPD is a progressive disease. Without treatment it will continue to get worse, but with the right treatment a patient’s daily living can greatly improve. For more information visit: www.lungmn.org.