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How Does Your State Stack Up When it Comes to COPD?

How Does Your State Stack Up When it Comes to COPD?

How Does Your State Stack Up When it Comes to COPD?

By Jennifer Nelson

Did you know the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers fact sheets on COPD for all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico?

Each fact sheet includes a table listing the reported prevalence of COPD among adults in the state or territory by age, race/ethnicity, sex, employment status, education level, household income, marital status, smoking status and asthma history. The fact sheets are available via an interactive map on the CDC site.

If you’ve been diagnosed with COPD, it may be helpful to know the air pollution rates in your state, not to mention carbon monoxide readings, tobacco use and more.

Some interesting facts about COPD by state, according to the CDC:

  • About 6.3 percent of the U.S. population suffers from COPD.
  • Forty-four percent of Oklahoma COPD sufferers haven’t exercised in a month.
  • Florida residents with COPD reported cost was an obstacle to health care, compared to those without the disease.
  • Texas residents with COPD were more likely to report 14 or more mental health days in the past month, compared to those without the disease.
  • The highest percentage of COPD sufferers live in Kentucky (9.8 percent).
  • The lowest percentage of COPD sufferers live in Utah (4 percent).
  • States with the highest smoking rates have the highest COPD rates. These “tobacco belt" states also have the lowest income levels.

This kind of state-level advocacy can help ease some of the suffering from COPD. You don’t have to move away from your state; however, knowing your risks from irritants, pollution and occupational exposures to chemicals, dust and fumes can be helpful.

Here, the 10 states/territories with the lowest rates of the disease, according to the CDC:

  1. Puerto Rico (3.1 percent of the population has COPD)
  2. Utah (4.0 percent of the population has COPD)
  3. (Tie) Minnesota/ Washington (4.1 percent of the population has COPD)
  4. Hawaii (4.4 percent of the population has COPD)
  5. (Tie) California/ Colorado/ District of Columbia (4.6 percent of the population has COPD)
  6. North Dakota (4.7 percent of the population has COPD)
  7. Nebraska (4.9 percent of the population has COPD)
COPD Isn’t Holding These Two Cyclists Back

COPD Isn’t Holding These Two Cyclists Back

COPD Isn’t Holding These Two Cyclists Back

By Marygrace Taylor

Being diagnosed with COPD doesn’t mean you have to spend your life on the sidelines. Just ask cyclist Mark Junge. He’s lived with COPD for more than a decade—but hasn’t let it stop him from conquering the world on two wheels. 

After being told in 2003 he had COPD, “I was sitting in the recliner with my remote thinking, Is this what I’m going to make of my life?“ says 72-year-old Junge. Knowing he’d feel happier and healthier if he were active, Junge began spending hours at the local YMCA on a stationary bike. Then, he got the idea to ride across the country. “I decided yes, I can do this,” he says. 

And in the summer of 2004, that’s exactly what he did. With his wife Ardath driving ahead in a van, Junge made the journey from San Francisco to New York in just three months, covering roughly 50 miles a day. Since then, he’s ridden across swaths of North America almost every summer—including trips from Newfoundland to Key West, and Tijuana to Alaska. 

Of course, none of Junge’s trips would have been possible without the help of portable oxygen. Last year, for a cross-country cycling trip with his brother-in-law, he strapped his Philips SimplyGo Mini on the back of his bike. Other times, he turns to portable liquid oxygen devices such as the Philips GoLox. “What makes it really great is you can wear it on your hip, and it weighs three and a half pounds. You don’t notice it’s there. I’m just like everybody else,“ he says. 

Portable oxygen devices also have enabled French cyclist Philippe Poncet, who was diagnosed with COPD in 2008, to stay active. After a friend suggested the two begin cycling together, Poncet decided he was up for the challenge. “When I saw that mountain I thought, Bloody hell, there’s no way. But yes, I have to do it,” he says. 

And after conquering one seemingly impossible mountain, Poncet knew there was no going back. In 2013, he climbed Espigoulier’s Pass, a 9.5-mile mountain pass near Marseille. The next year, he set the first hour world record under oxygen assistance on France’s Hyères-Costebelle Velodrome. And in June, he broke the world speed record on the 200 meter race in the southern France. 

Sure, Poncet might be an elite athlete. But he still believes that anyone with COPD can use portable oxygen to be active in whatever way works for their life—be it cycling up a giant peak or simply taking a stroll down the street. “Every step we do, it’s a new adventure,“ he says. So, what’s yours?

Non-Smoker? You Could Still Be At Risk for COPD

Non-Smoker? You Could Still Be At Risk for COPD

Non-Smoker? You Could Still Be At Risk for COPD

By Reyna Gobel

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a progressive disease that makes breathing difficult, occurs most often in smokers over age 45. However, according the National institutes of Health (NIH), as many as one in six individuals with COPD have never smoked cigarettes.

While presently there is no cure for COPD, early detection can reduce the severity of symptoms. Without diagnosis, patients won’t get advice from their doctors on healthy lifestyle choices and information on prescribed medications to reduce the disease’s severity of symptoms.

The only way to diagnose COPD early is through through a simple, non-invasive test called spirometry, in which patients exhale deeply into a tube connected to a machine that provides a reading of lung function, according to the NIH.

Anyone—even non-smokers—exhibiting symptoms of COPD should be tested, according to the NIH website. “Coughing, shortness of breath, excess sputum or phlegm production, and other signs of respiratory difficulty are good indications that a physician should be consulted,” noted Dr. James Kiley on the site.

Beyond exhibiting symptoms, individuals with exposure to these environmental pollutants should also get tested:

  • Exposure to gases, dusts or fumes in the workplace. An example is someone working in dusty construction sites.
  • Exposure to heavy amounts of secondhand smoke and pollution. For example, family members of smokers may be at risk if the smoker in the household smokes indoors.
  • Those who frequently use fire to cook with without proper ventilation, such as a cook in a restaurant.

People who think they might be at risk for COPD should get tested as soon as possible by their physician. Early detection can be key in sustaining a higher quality of life.

Don’t Forget! Simple Tricks to Remember Your Asthma Meds

Don’t Forget! Simple Tricks to Remember Your Asthma Meds

Don’t Forget! Simple Tricks to Remember Your Asthma Meds

By Marygrace Taylor

For the elderly, asthma complications can quickly become serious: According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the majority of asthma-related deaths in the United States occur in adults over age 65. And when it comes to taking asthma medications, there’s room for improvement. A mere 37 percent of seniors say they regularly take their inhaled corticosteroid, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine.

Many elderly adults struggle to stick with their prescription medication regimen. But inhalers can help control the chronic inflammation that can lead to asthma flare-ups, so it’s critical to use them regularly.

Fortunately, there’s help. In response to his findings, study author Dr. Alex Federman, associate professor of Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York City, said there are several rituals that can help older adults manage their inhaler use more effectively. Here are a few simple ones to incorporate into your daily routine—and start breathing easier:

1. Keep your medication in a usual location. Rather than moving it from one room to another, park it in one spot, such as the bathroom.

2. Add your inhaler to an already regular routine. For instance, make it a habit to always use your inhaler after brushing your teeth.

3. Use it at a specific time. If you make using your inhaler part of a regular routine, such as getting dressed in the morning, this one’s easy. Or make it a point to use your inhaler with a meal.

4. Take it with other medications. Do you normally take your pills before breakfast, or in the middle of the afternoon? Use your inhaler then, too.

5. Use other reminders. Find other ways to jog your memory, such as setting an alarm.

Spotting the Top 5 Symptoms of COPD

Spotting the Top 5 Symptoms of COPD

Spotting the Top 5 Symptoms of COPD

By Marygrace Taylor

The average adult takes up to 20 breaths per minute—or more than 20,000 per day. But for the 12 million Americans who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the simple act of inhaling and exhaling can feel like a lot more work.

What is COPD?

COPD is a lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe. One of the main causes is prolonged exposure to cigarette smoke, especially if the smoke is inhaled. But breathing in secondhand smoke, air pollution, chemical fumes or dust from the environment or workplace also can cause the condition.

There’s no cure for COPD, and it tends to get worse over time. But by managing symptoms proactively, COPD patients can slow the disease’s progression and continue to do more of the activities they enjoy.

Symptoms of COPD

There are several telltale symptoms that indicate a person may have COPD. Some of the most common include:

· A cough that lasts for several weeks, or a cough without a known reason (such as a cold)

· Coughing up lots of mucus

· Shortness of breath, especially with activity

· Wheezing (a whistling or squeaky sound when breathing)

· Tightness in the chest

Other common symptoms typically include tiredness and frequent colds or flu. COPD can cause other, more severe symptoms as well, including weight loss, lower muscle endurance and swelling in the ankles, feet or legs.

Taking Action Against COPD

There’s no cure for COPD, but lifestyle changes and treatments can help COPD patients feel better, stay more active and slow the progression of the disease. Together, you and your doctor can develop a COPD management regimen that includes:

· Quitting smoking and avoiding lung irritants (such as dust or fumes);

· Developing an exercise and nutrition plan to help your body stay strong;

· Taking medications, such as a bronchodilator or steroids;

· Keeping up on vaccines to prevent illness;

· Participating in pulmonary rehabilitation to improve your overall health and well-being; and

· Developing an action plan for COPD flare-up.

If you suspect that you or someone you know may have COPD, talk with your doctor. Together, you can take control over your breathing problem and continue living the life that you love.