Millions of Americans suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a chronic lung disease that worsens over time. As of November, 2018, there are 41 people in our region waiting for a lifesaving lung transplant and of those 41, 20 have been diagnosed with COPD.
Those living with COPD have an increased risk of developing heart disease and lung cancer. While there is no cure for the disease, it can be treated and more importantly, prevented. With November being COPD Awareness Month, it’s the perfect time to talk about how to prevent COPD and stay healthy!
Symptoms: The two most common conditions that contribute to COPD are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Some of the symptoms are shortness of breath, constant coughing, lack of energy, chest tightness, blueness of the lips or fingernail beds, unintended weight loss and/or frequent respiratory infections. The symptoms often impact work, exercise, sleep and every day activities.
Cause(s): More often than not, lung damage that leads to COPD is caused by long-term cigarette smoking. In some cases, second-hand smoke exposure, cigar smoke or air pollution can play a role in developing COPD, but tobacco smoking remains the number one cause.
With COPD, prevention is key. The best way to prevent COPD is to never smoke, or stop smoking right now, but if you are a smoker, listen to your lungs, and seek treatment if necessary.
This month, take the time to educate yourself about COPD and how to prevent it by checking out these great tools on the American Lung Association’s website.
For more information on how you can help reduce the organ transplant waiting list and to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor, visit DonateLifeColorado.org or DonateLifeWyoming.org. Talk with your family about your decision to donate.