Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which recently surpassed stroke as the third leading cause of death in the United States, claims more lives annually than breast cancer and diabetes combined. Yet symptoms of COPD — frequent shortness of breath, chronic cough, wheezing and excessive phlegm production — are often ignored and dismissed as normal signs of aging, or of being out of shape.
One in five Americans over the age of 45 has COPD, making it likely that we each know someone with symptoms. The good news is that COPD can be treated. This November, as part of National COPD Awareness Month, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and American Lung Association in Alaska are asking people to listen to their lungs. Talk with a health care provider about a simple breathing test called spirometry. While there is no cure for COPD, symptoms can be alleviated and people can get back to the things they love.
Please call The American Lung Association’s Lung HelpLine (1-800-LUNG-USA, option 2) with questions you have about COPD.
— Gail Schiemann