Few people are aware of COPD, but it is a disease that affects millions worldwide. Make sure you don’t ignore the symptoms.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a common illness, affecting 4 to 10% of adults in Europe, more than breast cancer and diabetes. The disease includes chronic branchitis and emphysema. If you often find yourself breathless, wheezing, suffering from a presistent cough (especially in the morning) or producing a large amount of mucus or phlegm, the best course of action is to talk to your doctor, it’s possible you could be suffering from COPD.
The breathing difficulties associated with COPD are caused by long-term damage to the lungs. This is commonly due to smoking but it also can be caused by lasting exposure to dust, biomass smoke (cooking without sufficient ventilation) and air pollution. On occasion the lung damage can also be the result of a genetic condition.
So far this year more than 4 million people have died as a result of COPD, with 64 million people currently living with the disease; over the last 20 years the number of desths from COPD has increased by more than 60% making it the only major cause of death on the increase.
Unless the problem of COPD is addressed, the World Health Organisation warns the disease will become the third highest cause of death worldwide by 2030. Dealing with COPD currently costs the EU around €10.3 billion a year.
One of the major problems with COPD is that the disease is often diagnosed far too late in its life cycle. Many people ignore the symptoms; for example, thinking the illness is a simple cough that will “just pass”, or believing that having trouble climbing stairs can be attributed to old age. This causes people to ignore the severity of the disease, believing it to be something less sirious. Smokers are also afraid of being stigmatised, which stops them visiting doctors. Consequently, raising awareness is a massively imortant step in the fight against this disease.
While there is currently no cure for COPD, the diseases is manageable, with proper care and pysical activity.
Wy take the rist? At the first sign of trouble, speak to your doctor.