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COPD can be treated

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) recently surpassed stroke as the third leading cause of death in the United States. In recent years, more women than men have died from COPD.

Yet symptoms of COPD — frequent shortness of breath, chronic cough, wheezing and excessive phlegm production — are often ignored and dismissed as normal signs of aging or of being out of shape. This helps explain why approximately one in five Americans over the age of 45 are living with this serious disease but don't know it and furthermore, don't think it warrants a trip to the doctor.

In people who have COPD, the airways — tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs — are partially blocked, which make it hard to breathe. This dramatically compromises a person's quality of life by making simple daily tasks like walking up stairs, shopping or singing along to your favorite song difficult.

The good news is that COPD can be treated. As part of National COPD Awareness Month, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and American Lung Association of the Mountain Pacific are asking people who may be exhibiting symptoms of COPD to listen to their lungs. Talk with your health care provider about a simple test called spirometry and take the first step toward managing and treating your COPD, and improving your quality of life.

The American Lung Association’s Lung HelpLine (1-800-LUNG-USA, option 2) is ready to answer any questions you have about COPD symptoms (coughing, shortness of breath, excess phlegm production), diagnosis, treatment and any clinical trials you may be eligible to participate in. While you are calling, please check out the location of your local Better Breather’s Club — a free monthly support group for adults with lung disease.

Beverly Stewart

Lake Oswego




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