Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is used to describe a group of conditions which cause long-term damage to the airways. Over 100,000 people are affected in Scotland although many more are living with symptoms but are not yet diagnosed.
‘It’s not too late’ will be used to emphasise what actions people can take to improve their respiratory health, at any stage before or after a COPD diagnosis.
Michelle Duffy, Senior COPD Practitioner with NHS Highland, explained that while there is no cure for COPD there are treatments available which can ease symptoms and there are also ways in which those with COPD can help themselves.
She said: “Coughing, regular production of phlegm, breathlessness and wheezing are the four main symptoms of COPD.
“Having COPD means your airways are damaged, usually through constant irritation with the most common reason for this being smoking. However it can also be caused by working in conditions that creates dust, a damp environment or chronic poorly treated asthma. Sometimes it can also be caused by genetics.”
Ms Duffy explained that there will be people out there who have not been diagnosed and urges anyone displaying symptoms such as shortness of breath to contact their GP.
Things to look out for –
• 35 or older,
• chronic cough,
• frequent winter bronchitis,
• smoker or ex- smoker.
She said: “Although there is no cure, as well as medical treatments, there is a lot that patients can do to help themselves and manage their condition. One of the most important things is knowing what is normal for you and recognising when it is getting worse and to seek help.
“Looking after yourself is also very important and that includes stopping smoking. You can also ask your doctor about pulmonary rehabilitation, this is a great method for helping keep as well as you can .
“We also work with our patients to encourage them to keep active, eat healthily and controlling their weight. Advice is also offered on how to help them cope if they’re feeling down as well on tips on how to relax.”
She added that staff from across NHS Highland will also be getting together to mark COPD Awareness Day by holding an educational conference which will include talks on early diagnosis and treatments.
The conference is being held on Wednesday 14th November at the Centre for Health Science in Inverness.