November is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) awareness month. COPD is the name for a group of lung conditions that cause breathing difficulties.
- Emphysema – damage to the air sacs in the lungs
- Chronic bronchitis – long-term inflammation of the airways
COPD is a common condition that mainly affects middle-aged or older adults who smoke. The condition can sometimes affect people who have never smoked. Many people don't realise they have it and conditions can gradually worsen over time. There may also be periods when they get suddenly worse, known as a flare-up or exacerbation.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptoms of COPD are:
- Increasing breathlessness (particularly when you're active)
- A persistent chesty chest infectionswith phlegm – which some people may dismiss as just a "smoker's cough"
- Frequent chest infections
- Persistent wheezing
- Read more symptoms of COPD
What’s happening locally?
The CCG is looking to improve identification rates across Staffordshire. To enable this, an IT tool has been developed to help identify risks of COPD which prompts Health Care Professionals to consider a diagnosis of COPD. Your local GP will be one of these health Care professionals using this tool to help identify those with the condition.
It is important to see your GP if you have persistent symptoms of COPD. Don't ignore the symptoms. If they're caused by COPD, it's best to start treatment as soon as possible.
What help is out there for me?
There is an app you can download on your mobile or tablet to support you in managing and treating COPD, the link to this free app is: https://apps.beta.nhs.uk/?category=COPD
For more information on COPD, you can visit NHS choices: https://www.nhs.uk/search?collection=nhs-meta&query=copd