20 Reasons Why COPD Awareness Matters
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Profile photo of John Bottrell, RRT

November is COPD awareness month.

I’m going to give you 20 reasons why COPD awareness matters:

  1. Because lung diseases like COPD receive little public attention and funding compared with other diseases.1
  2. Because researchers are working overtime to learn more about complex lung diseases like COPD, and they need all the money they can get to continue this research.
  3. Because not being able to breathe can be scary, and through awareness you can learn how to cope and live a fulfilling life with it.
  4. Because you cannot see shortness of breath, and through awareness you can help educate those who don’t have it to have empathy for those who do.
  5. Because COPD is now the 3rd most common cause of death in the U.S.2
  6. Because the burden of COPD reached upwards to $34 billion in the U.S. alone in 2010, and is expected to increase to $50 billion soon (if we are not there already).2
  7. Because 12 million Americans have a diagnosis of COPD and they will probably need to make lifestyle changes and need the support of their family, friends, and community.
  8. Because 12 million more Americans have COPD but have yet to be diagnosed, and early diagnosis and treatment can slow the progression of the disease, allowing them to breathe easier and live longer with it.3,9
  9. Because, in 1959, a study showed 40% of doctors smoked, which meant they were not setting a very good example for patients. Today, thanks to public awareness, no smoking is allowed in any place where healthcare is administered. In Michigan and many other states, no smoking is allowed in any public place, not even bars and restaurants.4
  10. Because public awareness programs have been educating of the dangers of smoking for years now. And they have worked, as smoking rates have declined from 42.4% in 1965 to 16.8% in 2014.5
  11. Because a 2014 study found that COPD awareness was low, and that the disease was not considered a relevant public health problem.6
  12. Because 40 million adults in the U.S. smoke, and they need to be educated about the potential future consequences of their actions.7
  13. Because, when I asked my 8-year old daughter what she thinks about smoking, she said, “Smoking is not good. It turns your lungs from pink to purple or black.”
  14. Because living with someone who smokes can increase your risk for developing lung diseases like COPD. Awareness can teach smokers of the need to separate themselves from nonsmokers, and this includes at home, at work, and in vehicles.
  15. Because second hand smoke can cause asthma in children, and it can set them up for a future of COPD. Awareness in this regard can educate parents of the need not to smoke around kids.8
  16. Because quitting smoking has been proven to slow the progression of COPD and prolong the lives of those who have it.
  17. In 2002, a questionnaire of 228 subjects showed that 47% were aware of COPD, although only 13% “were really aware of COPD.” In 2005, after a raising awareness of COPD during COPD days, 298 were asked to fill out the same questionnaire. The number who were “really aware of COPD” had risen to 29%. After similar campaigns in 2007 and 2008, this percentage rose to 45% and 55% respectively. So, this study showed that efforts to improve public awareness of COPD really do work.9
  18. Interestingly, studies have also shown that level of education, even experience in medicine, had little impact on level of ignorance toward our disease.9
  19. Because COPD is the #1 health risk of smoking cigarette smoke.
  20. COPD researchers are working overtime to learn more about this disease, and to come up with better treatment options, and maybe even a cure. Increased awareness may encourage those with the means to do so to increase funding for our cause.

So, COPD awareness does matter.

What are some reasons you think COPD awareness matters? Let us know in the comments below.

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