The Importance of Education
Education is not just limited to people without COPD. Many COPD patients and some doctors are still unaware of the range of tools available to help control their disease. Living with COPD is not just about taking your medication — pulmonary rehabilitation is a first step to beginning regular exercise.
The stigma associated with COPD is a little baffling. I’ve read comments people have made saying that patients with COPD deserve it due to their history of smoking. A key factor in heart disease and stroke is smoking, too, so does that mean those patients also deserve it?
The fact is many chronic illnesses can be linked to poor lifestyle choices — I’ve certainly made a few poor ones. One way to reverse people’s perception is how you confront COPD. People admire positive attitudes and a positive attitude is a great weapon for battling COPD.
Again, this comes down to education which will help remove the stigma with this disease. The more people know and understand what patients go through, the more they are likely to show compassion and want to help.
Raising Public Awareness
Any disease you want to cure needs to be put into the public domain for discussion. By doing this you can make a case for funding, research and advise of new treatments. COPD is a disease that flies under the radar, yet it’s one of the leading causes of death globally — and one which often goes undiagnosed.
In the United States alone, the American Lung Association suggests there are 12 million people who have been diagnosed and another 12 million more who remain undiagnosed. Bringing this to the attention of the general population can help in early detection and diagnosis as well as treatment options and prevention methods.
Like many diseases, COPD is largely preventable — but it’s only through education this can happen. With over 80 percent of COPD patients contracting the disease due to cigarette smoke, we can make a difference by letting people know of the consequences of smoking and the long-term health issues it creates. If we are able to convince people to quit smoking early, or never take it up in the first place, imagine the difference it would make to COPD prevalence as well as other smoking-related diseases.
Controlling other aspects that can cause COPD, such as environmental factors and asthma, can help reduce the chances of developing COPD as well. Limiting your exposure to chemicals and pollutants as well as having a good management plan in place for your asthma is a good place to start.