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“I’d been smoking since I was 12”

 
Created on 16/11/2016 @ 14:35
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A local resident is encouraging people to take their lung health seriously, sharing the challenges he faces living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease to mark World COPD Day today.

David Coppard, from Arddleen, is supporting the British Lung Foundation’s (BLF) campaign, after the charity revealed that millions of people across the UK have COPD but don’t even know it.

COPD is the name used to describe a number of conditions including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Up to 115,000 people are diagnosed with COPD each year – equivalent to a new diagnosis every five minutes.

David explains: “I always enjoyed walking my dog, usually 8-10 miles a day once I’d retired. In my 60s the task became a lot harder than usual, but the doctor put it down to my arteries being clogged up from smoking in my youth.

“It’s only when I got frustrated as my breathlessness slowly increased that I went back to the nurse who, after giving me a breathing test, told me I had COPD – or ‘smoker’s lung’ as she called it.

“Ever since I’ve been on a ventilator and only able to walk short distances. This World COPD Day I’m sharing my story to make people aware of the dangers, and to make sure they don’t ignore breathlessness as a symptom.

“I’d been smoking since I was 12, copying the film stars of our day who wouldn’t hesitate to crack open a packet and getting 100 free every week while on National Service. I’m glad I gave up when I did - who knows how bad things could be now if I hadn’t.”

The BLF is encouraging anyone who gets out of breath doing everyday tasks, such as walking upstairs, to take their lung health seriously. The charity has set up a simple online breath test on its website: www.blf.org.uk/breathtest and wants people to take the test and if advised to, seek advice from their GP.

Dr Penny Woods, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation, says: “COPD isn’t just a smokers’ disease. It usually develops because of long-term damage to your lungs from breathing in a harmful substance -  not just cigarette smoke, but smoke from other sources and air pollution too. Jobs where people are exposed to dust, fumes and chemicals can also contribute to developing COPD, meaning it can affect any one of us.

“We’re aware of 1.2 million across the UK diagnosed with the condition, but that’s the tip of the iceberg. Millions have this life-limiting lung disease, and they don’t even know it.”

World COPD Day will be used to raise awareness of other possible symptoms, such as having a cough that lasts a long time; wheezing in cold weather; and producing more sputum or phlegm than usual.

The charity’s Helpline provides advice on COPD and other lung conditions: 03000 030 555. Information is also available from its website: blf.org.uk/COPD.

 

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