It’s National COPD Awareness Month – do you know what to look out for?
Doctors at NHS East Lancashire and NHS Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Groups would like to remind residents about the symptoms of COPD and what to do to manage this disease.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the name for a group of lung conditions that cause breathing difficulties. It’s a common condition that mainly affects middle-aged or older adults who smoke.
Dr David White, GP Clinical Lead at Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Groups, said:
“Get familiar with the main symptoms and speak to your GP if your symptoms of COPD are persistent, particularly if you're over 40.
“Don't ignore the symptoms. It’s best to start treatment as soon as possible, before your lungs become significantly damaged.
“Your GP will ask you about your symptoms and whether you smoke or have smoked in the past. They can organise a breathing test to help diagnose COPD and rule out other lung conditions, such as asthma.
“Once you have your diagnosis and treatment has started, your GP can refer you onto various courses and give you access to self-management tools which can help individuals manage their symptoms and can help you live a better life.”
Most people with COPD do not have any noticeable symptoms until they reach their late 40s or 50s. The main symptoms of COPD include:
- increasing breathlessness this may only happen when exercising at first, and you may sometimes wake up at night feeling breathless
- a persistent chesty cough with phlegm that does not go away
- frequent chest infections
- persistent wheezing
The symptoms will usually get gradually worse over time and make daily activities increasingly difficult, although treatment can help slow the progression. Sometimes there may be periods when your symptoms get suddenly worse - known as a flare-up or exacerbation. It's common to have a few flare-ups a year, particularly during the winter.
A useful online self-management tool is myCOPD. myCOPD can enable you to manage your COPD better. It has useful techniques such as inhaler videos as well as a wide range of educational material. For more information on what myCOPD has to offer, you can watch a short YouTube video here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDekoBKEHLg or visit the myCOPD website: https://mymhealth.com/mycopd.
To find out more information about COPD, visit the NHS.UK website: