COPD doesn’t afflict only people who smoked

To the editor:

November is COPD awareness month. COPD ( Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible) asthma and some forms of bronchiectasis. This disease is characterized by increasing breathlessness.

There are more than 30 million people in the United States who have COPD, about half of which do not know they have the disease; they think their breathlessness is due to old age or other causes. People think that if they do not smoke or never smoked they will not get COPD, but the fact is 25 percent of COPD patients never smoked in their lives. The common causes and risk factors for COPD are smoking, second-hand smoke, fumes, chemicals and dust in many work environments. Indiana has a prevalence rate of 7.9 percent.

COPD affects not only you but your family because there are things you can no longer do and the way you do things changes.

There is a local support group sponsored by the local hospital “Living with COPD” that meets the first Tuesday of every month at the Health Ministry Conference Room. I would like to invite you and your caregiver to attend these meetings to learn tips from other people with the disease handle the condition.

—Victor Eckstein
Indiana State Captain, COPD Foundation

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