COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. The ALA estimates that around 16 million people in the US alone, suffer from COPD. Many more are most likely suffering and don’t even know. That’s why November is COPD Awareness Month – so people can educate themselves or their patients, friends, family, etc. about treatment and early diagnosis. With early diagnosis and treatment, a patient’s quality of life can improve dramatically and make a difference in their future struggle with the disease.

The Focus

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease has multiple treatments available and can be diagnosed in very early stages. The entire focus of the month is to encourage people to get tested so they can start treatment as early as possible, if need be. Too many people miss the fact that their symptoms are pointing to COPD, and don’t get tested until it’s too late to make a bigger difference.

What is COPD?

COPD is actually a blanket term for lung diseases that progress over time. The three most common are chronic bronchitis, non-reversible asthma, and emphysema. All three of these diseases cause breathlessness and will only get worse as they progress. There’s no cure, but if caught early enough, they can be slowed down, and cause less of an issue throughout the rest of a person’s life. Symptoms to watch out for are wheezing, excess mucus, exaggerated shortness of breath or breathlessness, consistent coughing, and a tight chest. Symptoms vary and can mimic other issues, which is why it’s so important that testing come into play as quickly as possible.

How Do You Get COPD?

COPD is more commonly caused by smoking, breathing in secondhand smoke on a consistent basis, pollution, working in a factory with a lot of smoke, etc. Any lung irritant can cause COPD over a period of time, leading to COPD which is an incurable disease. These diseases cause damage to the lungs and there is no way to reverse this damage, only manage it and the breathing issues it comes along with. Again, the earlier this disease is caught, the better it is for the patient and their future to come with the disease.

The best way to avoid COPD is to make healthy choices and try to avoid areas where there is high pollution, secondhand smoke, etc. You won’t gain the disease after one interaction with these irritants. It usually takes a consistent introduction to these irritants before irreversible damage is caused. If you think you could be at risk, or you think your friends and family could be at risk, get tested, or push them to get tested. Educate you and others around you and offer support or get support for choosing better and healthier choices. Make November a successful month for battling COPD.