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Breathe Easy this World COPD Day

The 15 November marks this year’s World COPD Day which aims to raise awareness of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and help people get the support they need.

COPD is the name for a collection of lung diseases which include chronic bronchitis and emphysema.  There are over 10,000 people in East Lancashire who live with COPD.

People who have COPD have difficulty breathing, they get out of breath more easily, and frequently have a persistent cough, wheeze or excessive phlegm production. These symptoms vary a great deal between patients depending on how severe their COPD has become. Breathing in smoke or other sorts of air pollution is the most common cause of COPD. Stopping smoking is one of the best ways of protecting yourself from getting COPD.

The symptoms of COPD include:

  • getting out of breath easily
  • a persistent cough
  • wheezing
  • producing more sputum or phlegm than usual

All patients with COPD are offered a yearly check-up at their GP practice. This covers general advice about lifestyle and medication. COPD is a complicated condition that impacts on many aspects of people’s lives and relationships, so to really understand COPD and how to live better with it, it is recommended that patients explore their options for self-care through support from the British Lung foundation (useful telephone helpline and website) or via online resources such as the MyCOPD website, which is available via your GP or Pulmonary Rehab team. 

COPD is helped by avoiding smoke and air pollutants e.g. open fires, eating healthily, staying active and by asking for a flu and pneumonia vaccine. Pulmonary Rehab courses are also available via your nurse or GP.  These group sessions support people to increase the amount of exercise that they can cope with.

To support patients with COPD, NHS East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and the British Lung Foundation run a Breathe Easy support group in Clitheroe which enables people who live with COPD to meet with others who understand their experience and learn more about COPD from health professionals.  The group is open to patients from across East Lancashire with plans to open similar groups in other areas. Contacting the British Lung Foundation helpline for information helps them to know who is interested in taking part in activities in your area.

Dr Stuart Berry, GP lead for respiratory conditions at NHS East Lancashire CCG said:

“Breathe Easy groups provide a great support network for patients and enables them to gain advice from other patients who have learned to cope well with COPD. This is a good way for patients to learn about how they can minimise their risks through exercise and medicine management, as well as making new friendships.”

For more information about COPD and breathe easy groups call British Lung Foundation on 03000 030 555 or visit www.blf.org.uk

Visit the MyCOPD website at https://apps.beta.nhs.uk/mycopd/.  Please speak with your GP practice or hospital team if you would like to use it. The CCG has 2600 licences to offer to patients.