COPD is commonly considered a “smokers disease,” but did you know that 25-45% of patients have never smoked? Second-hand smoke, occupational dust and chemicals, air pollution, and genetic factors also cause this disease.
“COPD is not just a disease of the elderly…a lot of people think of COPD as effecting people 65 and over but the prevalence rate of people 54 to 64 years of age,” said John Walsh, the co-founder and president of the COPD Foundation.
Many people mistake increased breathlessness and coughing as a normal part of aging. “There are 15 million people diagnosed with COPD and an estimated 12-15 million symptomatic but not diagnosed, which is one of our big challenges,” said Walsh.
A few years ago, the NY Times covered a story about a woman who attributed her breathlessness to age and weight gain — only to find out later that COPD was the source of her breathing problems. She maintained a positive attitude and did not allow COPD to dictate her life. Her commitment to a regular exercise routine empowered her to take control of her health.
Tell your friends and family about the online COPD Risk Screener. If someone you love exhibits warning signs of COPD, whether or not they smoked in the past, tell your doctor!