Do you have a chronic cough? Do you become short of breath during physical activity? Do you notice a decrease in your energy levels? Do you have frequent respiratory infections such as pneumonia? Combined, all of these may be strong indicators of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, also known as COPD.
In Canada, an estimated 1.6 million Canadians have COPD. However, recent studies have suggested that there are another 1.5 million Canadians with COPD that remain undiagnosed.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a progressive disease of the lungs. Unfortunately, many patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease are unaware they even have it as they often mistake its symptoms as being a normal part of the aging process, therefore they typically do not report any concerns to their family physician until the disease is in a much more developed stage – i.e., when their breathing becomes affected.
COPD most commonly occurs in individuals over the age of 40 who are smokers. However, smokers are not the only people who can be affected by COPD, as it can affect non-smokers, too. If you’ve been around second-hand smoke for much of your life or work in an environment that produces lots of chemicals, fumes and dust, you are also at risk of developing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
To prevent COPD, the first thing you should do (if you are a smoker) is stop smoking. Vancouver physician, Dr. Ali Ghahary, offers advice on smoking cessation here. For those who are non-smokers, it is important to avoid the aforementioned lung irritants as much as possible. As there may be a genetic component to COPD, it is also important to be aware of your family’s health history.
In order to accurately diagnose COPD, Dr. Ali Ghahary will refer patients for a type of lung test known as a pulmonary function test. This test measures how much air the patient can inhale and exhale, and also determines whether or not your lungs are delivering the right amount of oxygen to your blood. This test will help your physician decide on the best method of treatment for you. Along with avoiding exposure to irritants, Dr. Ghahary will also recommend the daily use of an inhaled bronchodilator and/or corticosteroid to help relieve symptoms and reduce lung inflammation.
For more information on COPD and other lung-related diseases, visit the Canadian Lung Association’s website at lung.ca. You can also find more information on COPD by following Dr. Ali Ghahary on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.