Leading local health charity, Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke (NICHS), is using World COPD Day (15th November) to make the public more aware of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and the symptoms associated with this condition.
Ursula Ferguson, Director of Care Services at NICHS, explains; “Over 42,700 people are estimated to be living with COPD in Northern Ireland. COPD occurs when the lungs become inflamed, damaged, and narrowed and it is the name for a group of conditions which cause breathing difficulties including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. COPD is usually associated with long-term exposure to irritants. In the majority of cases, smoking is the cause, however, occupational, or environmental factors, such as dust or chemicals can also cause the condition.”
“This World COPD Day we want to highlight the symptoms of COPD to the public, so they can recognise if they may have a potential health issue and can seek further help and advice. Symptoms of COPD can include:
- A persistent cough
- Production of mucus or phlegm
- Shortness of breath
- Chest infections.”
“We would urge anyone who is experiencing these symptoms to contact a medical professional. Although COPD cannot be cured, its symptoms can be treated and in turn, quality of life can be improved.”
Ursula continues; “Respiratory conditions are not always obvious to others and are often referred to as ‘invisible illnesses’. Often, people do not realise the impact respiratory conditions like COPD can have on someone’s life, as well as the lives of their families and carers. This means they don’t always receive the necessary support and understanding, but Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke is here to help.”
“The help our Care Services team provides is extensive and includes a Family Support service, health management and education programmes, Wellness Sessions, walking groups, our Inspire Choir, and emotional support.”
“Our team works throughout Northern Ireland with people of all ages affected by respiratory conditions, alongside their families and carers. They are dedicated to supporting people in adjusting to life with a respiratory condition, helping them to enjoy life to the full, re-engage with hobbies, and improve their confidence, independence, and overall wellbeing.”
Ursula concludes; “As a charity, almost 90% of our income comes from public donations. These funds are essential in enabling us to continue to support the local community and provide life-changing services. Without the public’s generous support, we could not help people across Northern Ireland, and we want to thank them for enabling us to be there for those who needs us.”
If you have been affected by COPD and need support visit www.nichs.org.uk/care-and-support/chest-support for further information about Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke’s respiratory support services.