Protecting your lungs from COPD
Lungs are very fragile organs that can be progressively and permanently damaged by certain factors. Uniprix-affiliated pharmacist-owners care about your lung health, which is why many of them host a Spirometry Day in their pharmacies every fall. To learn more about lung health, read this article or drop by for a chat with your family pharmacist on Spirometry Day.
What is COPD?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) involves shortness of breath, a chronic cough and an increased production of mucus. It includes several lung diseases, such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema. As COPD progresses, it causes more and more breathing difficulties, which limit activities, reduce quality of life and may lead to premature death. It is the 4th leading cause of mortality in the country.
In nearly 90 percent of cases, smoking is the main cause of COPD. Other risk factors include:
- Second-hand smoke
- Air pollution (dust or toxic gases) at work or in the environment
- Frequent lung infections in childhood
- Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (a rare genetic disorder)
Screening for COPD
Spirometry is a simple, effective test commonly used to diagnose COPD. It involves blowing, as hard and as long as you can, into a small tube attached to a machine, several times in a row. The results are then used to assess lung function (volume and capacity).
The test can be done at your doctor’s office or the hospital. Several years ago, many Uniprix Group-affiliated pharmacies joined forces with the Quebec Lung Association to offer a Spirometry Day every fall, in partnership with inhalation therapists. Ask your family pharmacist about this service.
Prevention and treatment
There are things you can do to lower your risk of developing COPD:
- Do not smoke
- Avoid second-hand smoke
- Help improve both indoor and outdoor air quality
- Protect your lungs at work
COPD cannot be cured, but it can be treated to enhance the quality of life of people with COPD and slow the progression of their disease. As part of their treatment, they may be asked to:
- Quit smoking
- Take medication to prevent and reduce symptoms
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle
- Join a pulmonary rehabilitation program
- Learn to prevent and manage COPD flare-ups
Your healthcare team will teach you how to manage and cope with your COPD. As part of this team, your family pharmacist can give you information on nicotine replacement therapies, if you choose to quit smoking, and the various types of medications to treat COPD symptoms.
Do you have questions on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease? Want to learn more about the annual Spirometry Day held at some of our affiliated sales locations? Looking for advice on smoking cessation aids to help you quit? Talk to your family pharmacist for more information.