Monday, November 21, 2011

Fighting for air? It could be COPD

November brings awareness to the third-leading cause of death in the United States - Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. The American Lung Association in Iowa is partnering with Iowa Hospice to host 15 COPD educational presentations across the state. The presentations will explain what COPD is, what causes it, and its symptoms and treatment options. The participants will also have an opportunity to take a COPD screen test to see if they are at risk for COPD.

The presentation will take place from 2 t 4 p.m. today at Southfield Assisted Living Community in Webster City.

COPD is a serious lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe. Twelve million Americans have COPD and another 12 million have symptoms, but are not yet diagnosed. COPD is an umbrella term for chronic lung diseases including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Reports show that COPD is the fastest-growing chronic disease and will affect 25 percent of all adults ages 35 and older in their lifetime.

COPD is treatable, and early diagnosis will help patients breathe better and live longer. Symptoms for COPD include a chronic cough, excess sputum or phlegm, shortness of breath, wheezing, and feeling that you cannot take a deep breath.

Many people believe their symptoms are signs of being out of shape or the natural process of aging. If you or someone you know feels that their shortness of breath or cough has slowed them down, encourage them to see their doctor for a simple breathing test called "spirometry."

COPD is most commonly caused by exposure to tobacco smoke either through smoking or secondhand smoke. You can also get COPD through exposure to environmental pollutants and genetics.

COPD is a progressive disease. Without treatment it will continue to get worse, but with the right treatment you will breathe better. For more information, visit: or call the American Lung Association Helpline at (800) LUNG-USA.

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