Are you aware of COPD and its symptoms?

Lung Foundation Australia estimates at least one in seven Australians over the age of 40 has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Lung Foundation Australia estimates at least one in seven Australians over the age of 40 has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which means they suffer shortness of breath or some other obstruction to their breathing. In around half of these instances, many will be unaware that they have the condition at all.

It’s entirely possible you – or a loved one – may have COPD without realising it. Today we’d like to ask the Starts at 60 community an important question: are you aware of all the symptoms and risks?

It’s not always easy to tell, because some of the symptoms of COPD are similar to other conditions. Many can be mistaken for signs of “getting old”. As such, they can often go ignored.

Unfortunately, COPD can remain undetected until significant lung damage has been done – potentially leading to hospitalisation and a huge impact on your quality of life.

If you are a smoker or frequently exposed to other irritants like second-hand smoke, air pollution or fumes, you have a higher risk of developing COPD. However, 20 per cent of those diagnosed with the illness have never smoked..

While only a doctor can diagnose COPD (with a simple test called spirometry), there are warning signs of the disease you can look out for, such a shortness of breath and a persistent cough with phlegm and production of mucus.

COPD cannot be cured, but there is a lot you can do to maintain quality of life. Lung Foundation Australia has many resources available for you and your family to help manage your disease.

Regular exercise and annual influenza vaccinations will help to keep you feeling well and out of hospital.

Unfortunately, people who live with COPD often suffer from a flare up of their symptoms, which is known as an exacerbation. It is very important to be aware of any change in symptoms and get to the doctor quickly to get help.

If you (or someone you love) has COPD, look out for the following signs of en exacerbation:

  • coughing more than usual
  • finding it more difficult to breathe than normal
  • feeling more tired than usual
  • coughing up more phlegm/mucus (or finding that phlegm/mucus that has changed in colour)

Don’t hesitate if you recognise a change in symptoms. Get to the doctor quickly and avoid a trip to hospital.

Have you (or a loved one) ever noticed symptoms like these? And if so: have you spoken to your GP?

This post is sponsored by Lung Foundation Australia. It was written as we believe it delivers valuable health insights into a subject important to the Starts at 60 community. For more information about COPD, please click here.

  1. Noelene Davey  

    I have been told i have COPD after many years of asthma ..after the last bout of pnemonia and pluerisy i have found it very hard to get rid of the very course cough, does anyone use any medicine to help the mucous move as it is very thick and sticky and hard to get up.

    • I have been prescribed an inhalant , a powder within a capsule , the inhaling device pierces the capsule , I then inhale the powder . The name on the prescription box says SEEBRI , the active ingredient is glycopyrronium . It helps to move that sticky mucous but I find that it is no better than Ventolin . We are buggered Noelene Davey ‘ I think the best we can do is keep on walking , further and further each day , and just try and ignore the panting and the tightness that wells up . Good luck .

    • Senega and Ammonia syrup … mix it with warm water though to help ease the horrible taste. Its very good though at loosening up mucous so you can cough it up.

    • Merri  

      I have had a lung problem for 2 months now. Have had 2 lots of antibiotics at the same time twice. Am on Prednisolone for 16 days. Have tried every cough syrup ( including one from a Chinese herbalist) AND THEN I discovered Bonnington’s Irish Moss from Woolies. Been taking it for 3 days religiously and feel heaps better. I can breathe again, next to no mucous, can take deep breaths and would almost pass a breatherlizer test. Worth trying and tastes good too.

  2. I have COPD, working with Asbestos, brickdust, and was a smoker. So, I know what I’m going to die from.

  3. Karen. Taylor  

    My farther and I suffered asthma for many years dad told me if drink a glass of milk to help remove any mucus

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