Do you or someone you know get out of breath more easily than others your age? Do you have a persistent cough and bring up phlegm or mucus most days?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, and there is a history of smoking, you may want to ask your pharmacist about a COPD screening test.
One in seven Australians 40 years or older have COPD and many are unaware they have it.
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is long-term disease of the lungs which causes shortness of breath. COPD is an umbrella term for conditions which include emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic asthma.
C- chronic – long term
O – obstructive – partly blocked
P – pulmonary – the lungs
D – disease – or illness
People who have COPD often mistake their symptoms as signs of ageing. As symptoms begin people may not to be able to run to catch the train or play with young children. Breathlessness can worsen to a stage where everyday tasks, such as hanging out the washing or walking to get the mail, become more and more difficult. The earlier COPD is diagnosed the better. Many pharmacies now offer a screening test and if needed will recommend you speak to your doctor about your lung health. You can ask your pharmacist if this is a service they offer.
While there is no cure for COPD, the good news is that there are steps which can be taken to control the symptoms and slow down the ongoing damage to your lungs. Quitting smoking, exercising, medicines and maintaining a healthy diet are important steps that will help people with COPD feel better and live a better quality of life.
Pharmacists are able to support people living with COPD with advice on medicine use and help improving inhaler technique. Pharmacists are also able to help consumers understand their COPD Action Plan and recognise when symptoms require medical attention.
Developed with the assistance of the Lung Foundation.