November is Alpha-1 Awareness Month

Not only is November COPD Awareness Month, but it is also Alpha-1 Awareness Month, which is a genetic form of COPD. I was diagnosed with Alpha-1 in 2010 and have been on oxygen since 2011 because of the COPD it has caused.

Alpha-1 Antitrypsin deficiency (Alpha-1) is a genetic or inherited condition that is passed from parents to their children through their genes. A-1 may result in serious lung disease in adults and/or liver disease at any age.1

Common symptoms

The most common symptoms of Alpha-1 related to the lungs are:1

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Chronic cough and sputum
  • Recurring chest colds

Symptoms related to the liver are:1

  • Eyes and skin turning yellow
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Vomiting blood or passing blood in the stool

Who should be tested?

Testing for Alpha-1 is recommended for the following:2

  • Everyone with emphysema, COPD, or chronic bronchitis
  • People with Bronchiectasis
  • Newborns, children, and adults with unexplained liver disease
  • People with a family history of liver disease
  • Blood relatives of a person diagnosed with A-1
  • One with Panniculitis, a skin disease

Spreading awareness

Every year for the last 9 years, our support group has gotten a proclamation from the state of Illinois for Alpha-1 Awareness Month. We also hold a fundraiser and awareness event to help spread awareness every year.

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Current evidence suggests that there are at least 100,000 people with Alpha-1 in the United States. Alpha-1 occurs when there is a lack of protein in the blood called Alpha-1 Antitrypsin or AAT (produced in the liver). The role of AAT is to protect the lungs from inflammation caused by infection and inhaled irritants, such as tobacco smoke and chemicals.1

Walk for a cure

Every year on November 1st, I with many other Alphas, always start posting facts and memes about Alpha-1 on social media to spread awareness.

We change our profile and cover pictures. We also join The Alpha-1 Foundation's Walk For A Cure every November to help spread awareness and raise funds for a cure.

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