An estimated 1.45 MILLION Australians have some form of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), which is a group of lung diseases that cause shortness of breath. Smoking is the biggest cause of COPD and whether you're a pack a day smoker or just have one every now and again, every cigarette increases your risk.
Chronic bronchitis and Emphysema are two types of COPD that are most commonly caused by smoking. The symptoms of COPD can take a while to appear, so thousands Australians don't know they have it until it starts affecting their daily lives.
If you have early stages of COPD, at first you'll notice becoming short of breath more quickly during exercise or manual work like gardening. It is easy to pass this off as a sign of getting older or poor fitness levels.
As the disease worsens, you may start to find yourself out of breath during tasks that used to be easy, such as climbing a few stairs or walking short distances. Without treatment, it can get to a point where you find it difficult to get out of bed and shower in the morning due to severe breathlessness. Take a 2-minute lung test here.
THE GOOD NEWS is that there are treatment options for COPD to slow down the disease and improve your quality of life. The best thing you can do, however, is quit smoking. Smoking cessation is the most important intervention to prevent the worsening of COPD.
If you have a persistent cough, bring up phlegm/mucous on a regular basis or find yourself out of breath more often than your mates, visit your GP for a lung health check.
For more information on COPD or for support, visit the Lung Foundation Australia.