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World COPD Day aims to bring more information to people about the group of lung conditions, diagnosis, prevention and treatment. There is currently an estimated 1.2 million people in the UK diagnosed with COPD.

What is COPD?

COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and covers a range of lung conditions, the most common of which being bronchitis and emphysema.

COPD is an umbrella term for long-term lung conditions that cause airways to narrow making respiration difficult and can eventually be lethal. It is sometimes confused with asthma; however, asthma is only a temporary narrowing of airways due to a trigger unlike COPD, which is a permanent airway narrowing.

Are you at risk?

The symptoms of COPD are:

  • Shortness of breath in everyday tasks
  • An enduring cough
  • Wheezing in the cold
  • Producing more sputum or phlegm than usual

Common causes of COPD include smoking, long-term exposure to dust, fumes and chemicals. It can also run in families.

If you know a family member who has been diagnosed with COPD, you experience some of the symptoms or are exposed to harmful dust, fumes, chemicals or cigarette smoke, then you should get checked out by your local GP.

COPD is a long-term condition and can significantly affect lives, which is why early diagnosis is so important. There is no cure for COPD, however health professionals can help you manage and ease symptoms through various treatments.

For more on COPD and other lung conditions see the British Lung Foundation: