A focus on education during COPD Awareness Month

Variety of events planned to draw attention, raise money for research

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by Mary Chapman |

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A single red-colored head appears in a crowd or white heads, signifying a rare disease.

From a Lace Up for Lungs challenge to learning about the impact of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in individual U.S. states, supporters are poised to participate in COPD Awareness Month, observed each November. World COPD Awareness Day is Nov. 15.

Each fall, the COPD Foundation and the lung health community mark the month by raising awareness and critical funds for COPD and two other chronic lung conditions called bronchiectasis and nontuberculous mycobacterial lung disease, while encouraging early diagnoses.

“With your help, we can spread the word about COPD and chronic lung disease awareness, prevention, and treatment, and advocate for better research, funding, and support for all who are affected,” the foundations states on its awareness month webpage.

The COPD foundation is sharing a number of events and ways to help through its Lace Up for Lungs initiative.

“There are many creative ways you can get involved with this year’s efforts,” the foundation states on the initiative’s webpage.

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Lace Up for Lungs challenges people to ‘get moving’

The foundation’s Lace Up for Lungs initiative challenges community members to “get moving” for 30 minutes daily in November. Joining the challenge involves setting up a Facebook fundraiser and posting progress in a support group on the platform.

Awareness month supporters are encouraged to create their own fundraisers such as a bake sale, backyard barbecue, pickleball tournament, or exercise challenge, and offers tips on getting started. In addition, the foundation offers a social media toolkit with images, downloadable signs, sample posts, and other resources.

In its Light the Night Orange initiative, supporters — called Lung Health Champions — are asked to get their local governments to have landmarks and official buildings illuminated in orange, the official color for awareness month.

They also are asked to wear orange Nov. 15, take a photo of themselves, and post the photo on social media using the hashtags #COPDAwarenessMonth, #LaceUpForLungs, and #LungHealthChampions, and/or #COPDChampions.

“When you become a Lung Health Champion this fall, you’re contributing to research, early diagnosis, and supporting educational efforts – all while advocating for and supporting individuals living with chronic lung disease and their families,” the foundation states in the initiative’s webpage.

The organization also is offering shareable information about COPD and a COPD screener, which individuals can use to see whether they should consult a healthcare professional about possible COPD symptoms.

The American Lung Association also invites supporters to get involved by understanding the impact of the chronic inflammatory lung disease on their state and act to help mitigate the disease’s burden.

In the U.S. alone, COPD is estimated to affect more than 12.5 million people. According to the association’s COPD State Briefs, announced earlier this month,  the 11 states with the nation’s highest COPD rates and burden are Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Maine, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Prevalence rates range by state from 3.7% in Hawaii to 13.6% in West Virginia.

The overarching aim of the state briefs is to heighten COPD awareness and empower healthcare and public health professionals to take steps to prevent disease onset, decrease health inequities, and ensure the use of clinical guidelines.

The association offers other ways to participate in this year’s awareness month, including learning the early warning signs of COPD and sharing a “Could It Be COPD?” questionnaire. Other suggestions include becoming a facilitator for the association’s Better Breathers Club, support groups for those with lung disease.

The organization also highlights free learning opportunities for healthcare professionals, patients, and caregivers, with topics including COPD basics, planning for the future, and changes people can make to improve the air they breathe.

 World COPD Day

Meanwhile, World COPD Day is organized each year by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) in collaboration with healthcare professionals and COPD patient groups globally.

“Its aim is to raise awareness, share knowledge, and discuss ways to reduce the burden of COPD worldwide,” GOLD states on this year’s event webpage.

The theme this year, “Breathing is Life – Act Earlier,” seeks to underscore the importance of early lung health, diagnosis, and interventions.

“This campaign will focus on highlighting the importance of early lung health and how we can expand the horizon of COPD prevention and treatment by acting earlier,” GOLD adds. “This can include preventing early risk factors, monitoring lung health from birth, diagnosing COPD in a precursor state and providing treatment promptly.”

There is a World COPD Day graphic available as well as information about Big Baton Pass, a Nov. 15 challenge designed to raise awareness of the impact of living with COPD and the benefits of staying active.

Participants may choose their own activity, such as walking, biking, or swimming, and record miles, minutes, or steps.  During the event, a virtual baton will be passed among countries hosting teams.