LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - In one minute, you'll take between 12 and 20 full breaths. Generally, you won't notice them. But if you struggle through every one of those breaths, minutes can turn into an eternity.
November is National COPD Awareness Month. COPD – also known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – is a progressive lung disease most commonly caused by smoking or other pollutants. It can also be caused by environmental or work factors – such as fumes or dust. Doctors can diagnose COPD through a breathing test called "spirometry."
"When we look at COPD it's an irreversible process," said Lexington Medical Center Pulmonologist, David Perry. "We don't think we can necessarily cure it, but we can maintain the lung function patients have."
At Lexington Medical Center, there's a special pulmonary rehab facility, designed for patients who need to improve their fitness capacity to combat signs of the degenerative disease.
"You don't win this game," said Paul Ellis. "The earlier the start the better off you are."
Nobody knows that better than Paul Ellis – who was recently diagnosed with COPD. He told WIS his wife noticed he was having a hard time breathing, and Ellis noticed it was difficult to perform basic household tasks.
"You had no stamina," Ellis said. "Even simple things around the house – going up and down stairs, yard work and stuff. I'd have to stop and catch my breath."
Ellis is lucky; doctors caught his COPD early. He's able to strengthen his muscles and cardiovascular health to slow down the progression of the disease.
"It's one of those things that you know it when you feel it, you know it's not right."
If you'd like to learn more about COPD and get screened – Lexington Medical Center is holding a free event on World COPD on Nov. 15. The event will include health screenings, a physician discussion, and a healthy meal.
The event will take place inside the Michael J. Biediger Auditorium at 2728 Sunset Boulevard in West Columbia from 5:00 PM-8:00 PM.
To RSVP and learn more, call (803)-935-8260.