The Mid North Coast Local Health District (MNCLHD) and Lung Foundation Australia are raising awareness of ways to better manage Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) on World COPD Day (20 November).
As bushfire smoke continues to affect air quality across the Mid North Coast, people with chronic respiratory conditions are encouraged to connect with local support services to find out how to improve their health and wellbeing.
Port Macquarie Base Hospital's Clinical Nurse Consultant Sarah Buckley said COPD is a long-term disease of the lungs which causes shortness of breath and includes conditions such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic asthma which isn't fully irreversible.
"While there is no cure, COPD is preventable and treatable. COPD affects one in seven Australians aged 40 years or over. Indigenous Australians are 2.5 times more likely to have COPD than non-Indigenous Australians," she said.
As part of the COPD awareness campaign, a display stand has been set up in the hospital's main corridor this week providing information and advice, including support to quit smoking.
"Early diagnosis and disease management programs such as pulmonary rehabilitation can reduce the burden of COPD, improve quality of life, slow disease progression, reduce mortality and keep people out of hospital," Ms Buckley said.
Patients with chronic respiratory diseases such as COPD are urged to take extra care while bushfire smoke is prevalent. This includes knowing your COPD action plan, reducing exposure to smoke by staying inside with doors and windows shut and seeking medical attention early if you are experiencing increased breathing difficulties.
The Lung Foundation Australia also recommends these steps to reduce COPD symptoms:
1. Stop smoking - the sooner you stop, the longer you are likely to live.
2. Seek help from health professionals - talk to your doctor, nurse, pharmacist or physiotherapist to understand how COPD is affecting you.
3. Boost your health - join an exercise and education program like pulmonary rehabilitation or community-based exercise program such as Lungs in Action.
4. Protect against flare-ups (exacerbations) - have an annual flu immunisation and pneumococcal immunisation as required and act quickly when your symptoms worsen.
For details about COPD, speak to your local doctor or visit: www.lungfoundation.com.au