Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

November is National COPD Awareness Month

COPD is a group of diseases that cause airflow blockage and breathing-related problems. It includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Kentucky is ranked among the top 10 states for the highest rate of death from COPD at 49.9 to 61.4 deaths per 100k. Kentucky is also ranked among the top 10 states for the prevalence of COPD at 8 to 10.7% of the population ≥18 years.

What are the risk factors?

Exposure to air pollution including cigarette smoke

  • Breathing secondhand smoke
  • Working with chemicals, dust, and fumes
  • Genetic conditions called Alpha-1 deficiency
  • A history of childhood respiratory infection

What are the symptoms?

  • Frequent coughing or wheezing
  • Excess phlegm, mucus, or sputum production
  • Shortness of breath
  • Trouble taking a deep breath
  • Chest Tightness
  • Lack of energy
  • Swelling in legs, feet, or ankles

What should I do if I think I have COPD?

Contact your primary care provider for an evaluation and or a referral to a lung specialist. A Simple test known as spirometry can be used to measure your lung function and detect COPD in persons with breathing difficulty.

Seek immediate medical care if you cannot catch your breath, if you experience blueness of your lips or fingernail bed, a rapid heartbeat, or if you are confused or have trouble concentrating. These can all be signs of a lowered oxygen concentration in the blood and can be life-altering and/or fatal if not treated promptly.