Today we wanted to celebrate World COPD Day 2022 by bringing awareness to a condition that is both so common and so unknown.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, refers to a group of lung conditions that cause breathing difficulties. It predominantly affects adults over 40 who have a history of smoking. Breathing problems associated with COPD tend to get progressively worse, and can limit day to day activities, although it is possible to keep symptoms under control through treatment.
The main symptoms of COPD include:
These COPD symptoms usually worsen steadily over time but may also flare up aggressively on occasion. The condition occurs when the lungs become inflamed, damaged or narrowed, and although it tends to be caused by smoking, it can also affect non-smokers. Other cases of COPD can be linked to long-term inhalation of harmful chemicals, dust, and fumes, while the occasional case is linked to a rare genetic predisposition.
One of the best ways to tackle COPD is to stop smoking. Using inhalers and other forms of medicine can ease breathing, while pulmonary rehabilitation – a programme of exercise and education – can help to manage symptoms. In rare cases, people suffering from COPD can undergo surgery or a lung transplant.
COPD is currently the second most common lung disease in the United Kingdom, following asthma. Over 1.2 million people are currently living with the condition, but it is estimated that as many as three times that number are undiagnosed. Every year, 30,000 people die as a result of issues caused by COPD. Untreated, the condition can worsen and lead to higher likelihood of heart problems, infection, and respiratory issues.
Although there are treatment options available, self-management of COPD is vital. With the support of friends and family, self-management allows those living with long-term conditions to regain some control over their lives. Being faced by COPD can be overwhelming but understanding what it is and how it can be dealt with are the first steps in learning to live with it.
For advice on quitting smoking please visit the NHS inform website here.
For more information about our long term condition management products please visit our website here.