Written and medically reviewed by Dorcas Morak, Pharm.D
November is dedicated to raising awareness of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). COPD is a chronic lung disease that causes difficulty breathing; it includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. In COPD, there is an overproduction of mucus, scarring, and narrowing of the airways, which leads to air becoming gradually trapped inside the lungs. At the end of this page, you will learn the basics of COPD, why it's vital to raise its awareness, and how you can get involved.
Why is COPD Awareness Important?
The reasons to raise awareness of COPD include:
- Assist in recognizing its early warning signs and symptoms.
- Motivate affected people to seek treatment.
- Expand access to early intervention to improve people's quality of life.
- Discourage smoking and limit exposure to other risk factors.
- Increases knowledge of the risks posed by air pollution.
- Spur political and health-related action, like more financing for screening, treatment, and outreach programs.
- Unravel the myth about COPD.
Relevant Statistics and Facts
Do you know that:
- More than 150,000 Americans die of COPD each year (1 death every 4 minutes).
- Smoking accounts for 75% of COPD fatalities.
- More than 16.4 million adults are diagnosed with COPD in the United States and many more are still undiagnosed.
- 5% of American adults reported having, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, or COPD at some point in their lives in 2020.
- The rate of COPD incidence increases progressively with age.
- Males are more likely than females to get COPD and die from it.
- COPD is preventable and manageable.
- COPD is an umbrella name for both emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
- Emphysema is a long-term illness caused by harm to the lungs' air sacs (alveoli).
- Chronic bronchitis is a long-lasting inflammation of the bronchi: an air passageway to the lungs.
How can I tell if I have COPD?
COPD can be diagnosed with a breathing test called Spirometry even if you don’t have the symptoms.
Is it possible to prevent COPD?
COPD is preventable and the major approach to prevent it is to quit smoking. Active smokers that stop smoking usually observe a progressive slowing of the disease. Other preventive measures are vaccination against the flu and pneumonia.
How is COPD Treated?
Treatment options for COPD involve medications such as antibiotics, bronchodilators, corticosteroids, etc., oxygen, and in some circumstances, lung transplantation or surgical excision. The medications used are:
- Short-acting bronchodilator for an emergency. E.g. Albuterol (Ventolin HFA), Levalbuterol (Xopenex), Ipratropium (Atrovent HFA), etc.
- Corticosteroids for relieving airway obstruction. E.g. Fluticasone (Flovent), Budesonide (Pulmicort), and Prednisolone.
- Long-acting bronchodilators for the long-term management of COPD. E.g. Aclidinium (Tudorza), Arformoterol (Brovana), Formoterol (Foradil, Perforomist), Salmeterol (Serevent), Tiotropium (Spiriva) etc.
What are the symptoms and signs of COPD?
The signs and symptoms of COPD include:
- Chronic cough.
- Weight loss.
- Breathing difficulty.
- Trouble exercising and moving around in hot weather.
What are the Risk Factors of COPD?
Get screened for COPD if you have the following risk factors:
- A family history of the ailment.
- Exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Exposure to environmental toxins such as pollution or occupational chemicals.
- Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.
How do I get involved in COPD Awareness Month?
- Enlighten people on social media: upload content that enlightens people about COPD on your social media account. Encourage people to learn about the risk factors of COPD, its prevention, and the health consequences.
- Get screened: schedule an appointment if you have any of the warning signs of COPD such as wheezing sound, chest tightness, etc. face your fear and get screened today, the earlier the COPD is diagnosed, the better it can be managed.
- Wear orange color: The official color of COPD Awareness Month is orange. Wearing an orange ribbon on your jacket is a simple way to show the world that you support the fight against COPD.
- Show people how to get up to 88% discount on their drugs by using a free RxLess discount coupon.