IRON RIVER, Mich. (WLUC) Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. To help promote awareness, Aspirus Iron River Hospital setup an informational booth Wednesday for 'World COPD Day.'
Every four minutes, someone will succumb to this chronic lung disease. COPD blocks airflow, making it difficult to breath and affecting the heart. The number one culprit: smoking.
"We like to target the middle-aged to the senior citizens with a long history of smoking," said Aspirus respiratory therapist Debra Uhlenbrauck. "Eighty to 90 percent of people that have been diagnosed with COPD, it's been smoking related. There's also 20 percent from chemical reactions."
Roughly 11 million people in the country suffer from COPD, and because the symptoms can often be confused with others, about another 2 million don't even know they have it.
"A lot of people probably say that, because of their cough and being short of breath, they're just getting old and that's not true," Uhlenbrauck said. "It's a disease process, a very real disease process."
COPD is not curable but, once detected, the right treatments can help drastically alleviate symptoms. So, diligently checking the nebulizers administering them, on a daily basis, is critical.
"If they aren't producing well, then treatments can take anywhere from 20 to 30 to 45 minutes, when it should be taking about 12 minutes," said Great Lakes Home Medical location manager Curtis Gerard.
To learn more about COPD, click here.