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November is National COPD Awareness Month; What to know about this chronic lung disease

November is National COPD Awareness Month; What to know about this chronic lung disease

Approximately 16 million Americans are diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but the Centers for Disease Control estimates millions more have COPD without knowing it.

November is National COPD Awareness Month, and Hendrick Health wants to educate the community on COPD and the importance of knowing its signs and symptoms.

COPD is an umbrella name for two lung conditions:

  • Emphysema, in which the walls between the air sacs in the lung have less elasticity to help move air
  • Chronic bronchitis, caused by repeated or constant irritation and inflammation in the lining of the airways, leading to the forming of mucus that makes breathing difficult

Signs and symptoms of COPD can include shortness of breath, chronic coughing, wheezing and tightness in the chest. These issues usually come on slowly and sometimes are dismissed as a consequence of aging or being out of shape, which can delay diagnosis.

Hendrick Pulmonary Rehabilitation works with COPD and other respiratory patients to help improve quality of life, reduce symptoms and teach patients how to manage their disease.

 “A common myth is that if COPD is due to smoking, quitting doesn’t matter,” said Bonnie Coxe, respiratory therapy manager at Hendrick Health. “It’s never too late to quit smoking. When you quit, the risk of having a heart attack or stroke or developing cancer is reduced, and symptoms from smoking improve.”

Although there is no cure for COPD, treatments and lifestyle changes can help improve quality of life. Treatments include inhaled medications called bronchodilators, pulmonary rehabilitation that can include exercise and oxygen therapy.

As a free community service, Hendrick Pulmonary Rehabilitation hosts the Better Breathers Club the second Tuesday of every month to provide education, support and inspiration for people living with COPD and other lung conditions. The group meets 2-3:30 p.m. at Hendrick Hospice Care, Room A & B, 1651 Pine Street.

For information about the next meeting, contact Hendrick Pulmonary Rehabilitation at 325-670-2280.