November is National COPD Awareness Month. In an effort to increase public awareness about COPD, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute sponsors an initiative each year at this time that puts focus on some aspect of COPD.
It is estimated that approximately 24 million Americans suffer from COPD, but as many as half of them are undiagnosed. Early diagnosis and treatment can lead to a better quality of life, and may help halt further progression of the disease.
A few COPD facts:
- In the U.S. today, approximately one in five adults over the age of 45 has COPD, but only half of them have been diagnosed.
- COPD is currently the third leading cause of death in the U.S. today, killing 120,000 Americans annually.
- Smoking is responsible for 9 of 10 COPD-related deaths, but approximately one in six COPD deaths are people who have never smoked.
Symptoms of COPD include:
- sputum (mucus) production
- shortness of breath, especially with exercise
- wheezing(a whistling or rattle type noise) when you breathe in
- tightness in the chest
If you or a loved one have any of the above symptoms of COPD, it's time to see your doctor. The earlier this disease is diagnosed and treated, the better your chances are of arresting further damage.