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World marks COPD- know the signs and know what to do

Wednesday November 21 is World COPD day – and people are being urged to know the signs of this serious condition, how to avoid it and how to manage it if they have been diagnosed.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a serious lung condition that makes breathing more difficult.

Dr Mukesh Singh, Staffordshire Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) Respiratory Lead, said: “COPD is most likely to affect people who smoke. The best thing you can do to prevent getting this disease, and to improve your health overall, is to quit smoking. We know that this can be very difficult and that is why the NHS offers a number of services to help you quit.

“If you have COPD it is really important that you get the flu jab. Flu can be very dangerous for people with this disease because it puts more strain on their respiratory systems, making it even harder for them to breathe than it already is. You can visit your GP or go to any pharmacy to get the flu jab.”

This disease and its complications can be debilitating with high risk of death, so it is important that you know the signs and symptoms to help spot it early on. Some patients may have co-existing diabetes, heart failure, anxiety and depression, high blood pressure, stroke, irregular heartbeats (atrial fibrillation), heart attack/angina, osteoporosis, anaemia etc.

Symptoms of COPD include:

  • increasing breathlessness
  • persistent chesty cough
  • frequent chest infections
  • persistent wheezing.

Symptoms will gradually worsen over time, and there may be periods where symptoms suddenly get worse – especially in winter. If you experience these symptoms you should call community respiratory services, NHS 111, visit your local pharmacist or your GP.

While COPD is not curable, there are treatments available to minimise the symptoms. Management may be in the form of support to stop smoking, pulmonary rehabilitation, inhalers, medication, Oxygen and in some suitable cases surgery and lung transplants.

You can more information on COPD on the NHS.uk website.

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