COMMUNITY HEALTH CORNER
If you have had a cold or suffered from allergies, you know what it feels like to have trouble breathing, mucus caught in your throat and chest, and a cough. Now imagine experiencing these conditions all the time. That’s what it’s like to have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, commonly known as COPD.
Currently, almost 15.7 million Americans are diagnosed with COPD and many more may have it and not know. In the U.S., COPD is the third leading cause of death. While mortality rates between 1988 and 1999 gradually declined among males, it increased among females by 53 percent, making it a significant health concern for women.
COPD is a progressive disease that causes coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and other symptoms that worsen over time and make it difficult to breathe. Severe COPD can prevent someone from completing basic tasks such as cooking, walking or even eating. Typically it is diagnosed in middle-aged or older adults.
The leading cause of COPD is smoking cigarettes. Most people with COPD smoke or used to smoke. Quitting smoking is the most important first step you can take to prevent and treat the disease. A history of respiratory infections or long-term exposure to irritants such as air pollution, chemical fumes or dust, may also contribute to COPD.
Although there is no cure, treatments and lifestyle changes that can make it easier to live with COPD. At HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley, the Respiratory Care Department responds to emergencies for patients of all ages from newborn through adults, and assists in improving respiratory function 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to inpatient and Emergency Department patients. Services include medication treatments, life support and pulmonary testing to maintain optimum physiological maintenance of the cardiorespiratory system. For more information about respiratory services at HealthAlliance, call 845-3313131.
For more information about HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley, visit hahv.org