THE region’s healths professionals are reminding residents to look after their lungs, as today marks World COPD Day.
COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – is a long-term lung disease that causes shortness of breath.
It affects one in seven people over 40 in Australia, but Tamworth Community Health clinical nurse specialist Joanne McIlveen said COPD often went undiagnosed because people thought shortness of breath was a normal part of ageing.
Symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath and a repetitive cough with mucus on most days, with the breathlessness getting more severe as the disease progresses.
People with a history of smoking or exposure to smoke, fumes or industrial dust are at greater risk.
Mrs McIlveen said anyone with those symptoms should visit their GP for a lung function test to check whether they have COPD.
The disease led to reduced quality of life, she said, because the shortness of breath made everyday living more difficult.
But for local people with COPD, there is help available.
Tamworth Community Health runs a 10-week pulmonary rehabilitation program, which includes exercise and education to help people improve their fitness and develop self-management techniques.
Edith Ausling is nine weeks through the program and said it had already made a difference to her life.
Mrs Ausling said, participants had been taught breathing exercises to do when they felt breathless, which she said were effective and helped her get back to
breathing normally quickly.
The local support group, the Windjammers, will mark World COPD Day with a morning tea at West Tamworth Bowling Club from 10am tomorrow, with any prospective new members invited to join.
Anyone interested in the pulmonary rehabilitation program can contact Tamworth Community Health on 6767 8100 or visit their GP, and those wishing to join the Windjammers can call Bob Forrester on 6769 5933.