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Bayhealth Offers Education, Support During COPD Awareness Month


COPD Lung X RayAccording to the American Lung Association, 13 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD, and millions more are undiagnosed. So what is COPD?

“COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is a lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe,” said Bayhealth Lead Respiratory Therapist Debi Brown, MBA, RRT. “It includes emphysema, asthma, chronic bronchitis and other diseases, and it is now the third-leading cause of death.”

But, COPD is preventable and treatable, particularly when diagnosed early. The most obvious means of prevention is to not smoke; however it is possible to have COPD without having ever smoked a single cigarette. Second hand smoke, air pollution, genetic disorders, and occupational dust and chemicals can all contribute to COPD.

“It’s not just a smoker’s disease,” Brown added. “It’s anything that impairs lung function.”

Anyone with symptoms of COPD, which include a constant cough, shortness of breath during normal daily activities, the production of sputum (phlegm), wheezing, and the inability to take deep breaths, should be tested. Spirometry is a simple breathing test that measures lung function. Once diagnosed, any patient who does smoke needs to quit, and patients should also seek education and get physically active to help improve lung function. Bayhealth offers physician-referred pulmonary rehabilitation programs at both Kent General and Milford Memorial to help rebuild lung strength, reduce shortness of breath, and identify triggers that exacerbate COPD.

“Our lungs can seem invincible; however, if you continue to smoke, research has shown there is an increased risk of being oxygen-dependent in later years,” Brown added.

Bayhealth will reintroduce a “Better Breathers Support Group” on February 28, 2013, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the General Foods Conference Room at Kent General for anyone with COPD. The support group will be co-facilitated by Bayhealth Respiratory Therapy and Education Departments. No registration is required. For more information, please contact Terry Towne, MSN, RN-BC, NE-BC at (302) 744-6724.

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