Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an illness that affects more than a million Canadians and accounts for the highest rate of admissions among major chronic illnesses. The good news is that it’s both treatable and preventable (by avoiding smoking). Here’s what you need to know:
What is it?
COPD is a lung disease that is also referred to as chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It affects the airways (the branching tubes that carry air within the lungs) and causes them to become narrow, irritated and damaged. Symptoms can include shortness of breath, wheezing, a chronic cough and mucus production, lung infections, fatigue and more.
Why do people get it?
COPD is most often caused by smoking. Though rare, it can also be caused by a genetic disorder, frequent childhood lung infections or excessive toxic fume and chemical inhalation.
How is it treated?
At St. Joe’s we have a team of people who help COPD patients both on an outpatient basis and when they’re admitted to the hospital. Our team helps diagnose and monitor COPD by performing tests that assess breathing function in our state-of-the-art pulmonary function lab. When someone has been diagnosed with COPD, our team works with them to provide support, education and self-management strategies. People with COPD will be encouraged to quit smoking and exercise.
Where can I get more information?
Learn more from the Canadian Lung Association at lung.ca.
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