Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is actually a group of diseases that causes problems related to breathing and air flow. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are both included in this group of diseases, which are often caused by air pollution or smoking. People who have diseases of COPD are typically at a higher risk for other health problems, making it even more important that they get the health care they need.
Because COPD is the world’s third leading cause of death, the earlier the diagnosis happens, the more likely people with the disease are to be able to be treated and live longer lives. But over the last three decades, the prevalence of COPD has increased rapidly. That’s why it is critically important that more people become aware of this disease, including the options for treatment as well as forms of prevention.
World COPD Day has been an important initiative for more than two decades, raising awareness for this disease and working in collaboration with health professionals as well as COPD patient groups all throughout the world.
History of World COPD Day
World COPD Day got its start in 2002 when it was established by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease. Since its founding, this global healthcare initiative has been celebrated annually with the purpose of raising awareness and reducing the burden of this disease. Now, organizers from more than fifty countries all over the planet offer opportunities to observe the day through activities, events, campaigns, education and more.
Each year, World COPD Day has a different theme that relates to and communicates some of the struggles and needs associated with this disease. Different ideas for themes over the years have included some of these:
- Your Lungs for Life (2022)
- Healthy Lungs – Never More Important (2021)
- Living Well With COPD – Everybody, Everywhere (2020)
- All Together to End COPD (2019)
How to Observe World COPD Day
World COPD Day offers a variety of ways to observe the day by attending events or making plans with friends, family or coworkers that include some of these ideas:
Learn More About COPD
One of the best ways to show appreciation for World COPD Day would be to learn a bit more about what COPD is and then share the information to raise awareness for the celebration of this day. Check out some of these important facts that can be learned about this disease:
- COPD is a leading cause of death in the United States and affects at least 16 million Americans.
- While there is no cure for COPD at this point, the diseases are typically preventable and treatable.
- The most common cause of COPD is smoking.
- With proper management, most people with COPD can achieve a good quality of life with symptom control.
An excellent way to find out more about COPD, its impact and prevention, might be to visit various health websites online, including those by the World Health Organization (WHO), the American Lung Association and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Attend a World COPD Day Event
Because organizers all over the world offer events, a great way to celebrate might be to attend and get involved with one of these events for World COPD Day. Educational conferences, keynote speakers, webinars, and even free lung function tests are all part of the different opportunities offered for observing the day.
The website for the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease offers access to information related to activities and events in celebration of World COPD Day. Primary care physicians can also make plans to attend the two day GOLD International COPD Conference that occurs each year in the autumn.
Identify Symptoms of COPD
While it’s true that millions of people all over the world have been diagnosed with COPD, there are also likely many others who have it but don’t know it. One important part of World COPD Day is to raise awareness about the symptoms and encourage people to seek out care from a medical professional.
In addition to shortness of breath, symptoms of COPD can include:
- A persistent cough that doesn’t go away, coming from the chest and including phlegm or mucus
- Frequent infections of the chest and lungs, as well as chest tightness
- Sneezing, runny nose, and fatigue or weakness
- Wheezing when breathing
Those who experience these symptoms frequently, for more than the duration of a regular cold or more often, should see a doctor right away.
Pursue a Healthy Lifestyle
In honor of World COPD Day, those who already know they have COPD should be sure they are getting the proper care from their doctor. And those who do not have it should aim to live a healthy lifestyle that takes care of their lungs. The first item on the list would be to quit smoking – or never start smoking to begin with, of course. In addition, stay away from second hand smoke including cigars, cigarettes or pipes. Plus, it may be wise to participate in a regular exercise routine such as walking or running, which helps to keep the lungs functioning and in top shape.
Those who are concerned about their breathing, or who need to stop smoking, should certainly make an appointment with their doctor or talk to a health care professional who can help with a diagnosis as well as prevention or treatment.
Understand Risk Factors for COPD
In addition to smoking, it is important to understand what risk factors are involved with a COPD diagnosis in order to help with prevention. Consider these risk factors that should alert people to a greater potential for acquiring this disease:
- Family history of COPD, chronic bronchitis or other breathing issues.
- Previous childhood respiratory infections.
- Exposure to toxins such as second hand smoke, workplace toxins (chemicals, fumes, dust) or air pollution.