Reducing the stigma of lung disease on World COPD Day

The aim of World COPD Day, which falls on 21 November 2018, is to increase Community awareness of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). This year, the Mid North Coast Local Health District (MNCLHD) and Lung Foundation Australia are focusing on reducing the stigma associated with lung disease.

COPD is a long-term disease of the lungs which causes shortness of breath. It is an umbrella term for conditions including emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic Asthma. COPD affects one in seven (or 14.5 per cent) Australians aged 40 years or over, and is the second leading cause of avoidable hospital admissions. Indigenous Australians are two and a half times more likely to have COPD than non-Indigenous Australians.

MNCLHD Respiratory Clinical Nurse Consultant Sarah Buckley said while there is currently no cure for COPD, evidence shows that there are things you can do to breathe easier.

“Early diagnosis and disease management programs such as pulmonary rehabilitation can reduce the burden of COPD, improve quality of life, slow disease progression, reduce mortality and keep people well and out of hospital,” Ms Buckley said.

“Symptoms of lung disease tend to creep up slowly and people often automatically adjust their daily activities to accommodate or reduce their symptoms rather than getting help.”  

MNCLHD is holding several events and activities throughout the week of World COPD Day (19-23 November) to help showcase the many faces of COPD and raise awareness about the symptoms, risks and treatment, including information stands at the Port Macquarie Base Hospital and Settlement City (8am to 4pm on 21 November) where eligible members of the community can complete a screening assessment for COPD and access smoking cessation advice and support.

The Camden Haven Respiratory Exercise Group is also holding a World COPD Day walk on 21 November, starting at 9.30am from the Marine Rescue Centre in Laurieton.

The Lung Foundation Australia recommends the following four steps for people with COPD to reduce their symptoms and slow down the damage being done to their lungs:

  1. Stop smoking – this is the single most important thing you can do for yourself. The sooner you stop, the longer you are likely to live
  2. Seek help from health professionals – talk with your Doctor, Nurse, Pharmacist or Physiotherapist to understand how COPD is affecting you and what to do about it. Develop a COPD Action Plan with your doctor to manage flare-ups quickly
  3. Boost your health – join an exercise and education program like pulmonary rehabilitation or other community based exercise programs such as Lungs in Action
  4. Protect against flare-ups – have an annual flu immunisation and pneumococcal immunisation as required and act quickly when your symptoms worsen.

To find out more about COPD speak to your local doctor or visit www.lungfoundation.com.au or www.lungsinaction.com.au .