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Your Healthy Family: Why it's harder to raise awareness for COPD

Posted at 7:32 AM, Nov 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-24 07:35:15-05

NAPLES, Fla. — November is COPD Awareness Month. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease makes it tough for patients to exhale, and is typically caused by smoking or exposure to pollutants. A Doctor with NCH Healthcare System said it's harder to raise awareness for COPD compared to other diseases.

Dr. David Lindner, the Subdivision Head of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine for NCH Healthcare System, said the first step in treating COPD is stopping whatever is causing it.

"I can give all this other treatment, but if I'm continuing the process, I'll probably not be very successful," Dr. Lindner said.

He said data shows medications that are inhaled and go directly to the lungs help COPD patients, as well as does Pulmonary Rehabilitation. Dr. Lindner also said data shows preventing other health issues, helps COPD patients.

"If you compare the group of people who get the influenza vaccine to those who don't get the influenza vaccine with COPD, the people who got it will basically live longer, happier, healthier lives," he said.

Dr. Lindner said when treating COPD, it’s important to take a comprehensive approach.

"On average, a person with more advanced COPD has it at least three to five other organ systems involved. This is a systemic disease. Bone loss, muscle loss, memory change,” he said.

He said right now, COPD and lung diseases are the third most common killer in the world. Because of the stigma of tobacco use, Dr. Lindner said many people with COPD feel shame about their diagnosis and don’t get the help they need, or raise the awareness they deserve, but awareness is key.

"I would love to see that COPD drops back down to the ninth or tenth killer. That means we would have been wildly successful with that. I don't want to see it overtake some of these other things as basically the major cause of death and disability among our patients," he said.

Dr. Lindner said our country invests a lot of money in fixing problems like COPD instead of in prevention, and that’s where the real battle lies — preventing young people from using tobacco and preventing the pollution that leads to COPD.