skip to main content

Lung condition affecting over 42,000 people in NI highlighted on World COPD Day

16 Nov 2022
COPD Symptoms

Leading local health charity, Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke (NICHS), is using World COPD Day (16th 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; “42,235¹ 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
  • Wheezing
  • 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.”

“Over the past year, our Care Service team have supported more than 500 people with respiratory conditions. The help the team provides is extensive and includes family support, health management and education programmes, our Wellness Sessions, walking groups 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.”

“We are also always keen to engage with people affected by respiratory conditions who may not be familiar with our services. There are over 160,000 people with long-term respiratory conditions here and we recently launched a Respiratory Survey as we would like to hear from them, as well as from the people who help to care for them.”

“The survey can be found at . It only takes five to ten minutes to fill in and we would love to hear from as many people as possible.”

Ursula concludes; “As a charity, almost 90% of our work, including our care and prevention services and research, is funded exclusively by 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 for further information about Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke’s respiratory support services.