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Waukesha Freeman Newspaper
October 20, 2004

 

Help fight pulmonary disease

An invisible killer is in our midst called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. You may well not even recognize the name, but COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. COPD is growing at such a rapid rate that it is expected to become the third leading cause of death by the year 2010.

Just what is COPD? COPD is a progressive, terminal disease that causes the airways and alveoli in the lungs to lose their elasticity and causes the airway walls to collapse, closing off smaller airways and narrowing the larger ones. It is chronic and incurable. Long-term smokers, people exposed to air pollution or secondhand smoke and those with a family history of COPD are most at risk of contracting the disease. COPD, more commonly known as emphysema and chronic bronchitis, is the second greatest cause of disability.

What can be done? November has been proclaimed COPD Awareness Month and World COPD Awareness Day is Nov. 17. Funding for research of this disease is very low and needs to be increased if we are going to develop better treatments and eventually, a cure. Please urge your representatives to increase National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spending on research. If your area has a special educational event about COPD, please attend. If you are at potential risk for COPD, please ask your family doctor to test you. COPD is not usually diagnosed until people have begun to show symptoms, and by that time they will have already lost 50 percent of their lung capacity. And, if you are a smoker, quit.

Where can you go for further information about COPD? I am a member of Emphysema Foundation For Our Right To Survive, or EFFORTS, an online support and advocacy group with members from 34 countries. Visit www.emphysema.net to find out more.

Ione Driggs, Muskego


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