World C.O.P.D. Day is observed every year on the third Wednesday of November. This year, it’s commemorated on November 20. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (C.O.P.D.) is a type of preventable and treatable progressive lung disease that is characterized by long-term respiratory symptoms and airflow limitation. Its main symptoms include shortness of breath and a cough, and possible chronic sputum production. It’s a progressive disease that worsens over time, making everyday activities such as walking or dressing more and more difficult. The most common cause of C.O.P.D. is tobacco smoking and other inhaled toxic particles and gasses. Other factors are Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, older age, and genetics.
History of World COPD Day
In the past, physicians have used different terms to describe what was likely C.O.P.D. In 1679, Swiss physician Théophile Bonet referred to “voluminous lungs,” and in 1769, Italian anatomist Giovanni Morgagni reported 19 cases of “turgid” lungs. In 1814, chronic bronchitis was first identified as a disabling health condition and part of C.O.P.D. by British physician Charles Badham. He was the first person to use the term ‘catarrh’ to describe the ongoing cough and excessive mucus that C.O.P.D. produces. In 1821, physician René Laënnec, the inventor of the stethoscope, recognized emphysema as another component of C.O.P.D. As smoking wasn’t common during the early 1800s, he identified air pollution and genetic factors as the principal causes of the development of C.O.P.D. In 1846, John Hutchinson invented the spirometer, which measures vital lung capacity and is still an essential tool in diagnosing C.O.P.D. today.
The first person thought to use the term “chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder” was Dr. William Briscoe at the 9th Aspen Emphysema Conference in June 1965. In 1976, Charles Fletcher, a physician, linked smoking to C.O.P.D. in his book “The Natural History of Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema.” He and his colleagues discovered that stopping smoking could help to slow the progress of C.O.P.D. In the past, oxygen therapy, steroid treatment, and exercise were considered dangerous for people with C.O.P.D. Inhalers and mechanical ventilators were introduced in the early 1960s. The concept of pulmonary rehabilitation and home care was also introduced at the ninth Aspen Emphysema Conference. Today, long-term oxygen therapy through these means is the only treatment known to alter the course of C.O.P.D.
The 1990s saw a rise in the use of medication to manage C.O.P.D. symptoms and restore pulmonary function. The promotion of C.O.P.D. education meant quitting smoking and clean air awareness became the primary focus of self-care treatment. Healthcare professionals stress the importance of diet and physical exercise as part of a C.O.P.D. rehabilitation program.
World COPD Day timeline
Swiss physician Théophile Bonet refers to “voluminous lungs” to describe what was likely C.O.P.D.
British physician Charles Badham discovers that it is also a disabling heart condition.
Physician René Laënnec recognizes emphysema as this, and air pollution and genetic factors as the principal causes of the development of C.O.P.D.
It remains an essential tool in diagnosing C.O.P.D. to this day.
The term is used by Dr. William Briscoe at the ninth Aspen Emphysema Conference, where pulmonary rehabilitation and home care are introduced as treatments as well.
He and his colleagues discover that stopping smoking can help to slow the progress of the disease.
World COPD Day FAQs
Does C.O.P.D. show up on an x-ray?
An x-ray can show enlarged lungs, air pockets (bullae), or a flattened diaphragm, but usually, only once the disease has become severe.
Can C.O.P.D. affect your eyes?
Yes, people with C.O.P.D. have lower retinal arterial oxygen levels, which can cause issues with vision.
Are C.O.P.D. and asthma the same thing?
No, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma are different diseases, although they both affect the lungs and make it hard to breathe.
How to Observe World COPD Day
Visit your doctor if you think you’re at risk
If you are — or know someone who is — a smoker, or have parents that have suffered from C.O.P.D., this is a good opportunity to check with your general practitioner. You can also do a simple breath test online for free, to see if your lung capacity is normal.
Read more information about COPD
The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD)’s website has a lot of information about the topic, and each year they choose a specific theme for World C.O.P.D. Day. They also have even more activities you can do to observe this day, including conferences about the topic that they organize.
Spread awareness of C.O.P.D.
You may not have it, but others may not be so lucky, and worse, they could not realize they are sick. Share articles on social media with your friends and family using the hashtag #WorldCOPDDay.
5 Facts About C.O.P.D. You Should Know
Over 8.9 million Americans had it in 2016, and nearly 75% of cases involved people over the age of 45.
Around 3.5 million Americans had it in 2016, and over 90% of cases involved people over the age of 45.
Women have higher rates of C.O.P.D.
In the United States, women are 37% more likely to have C.O.P.D. than men and are especially vulnerable before the age of 65.
Secondhand smokers can also get it
If the contact is heavy or long-term enough, it’s possible.
Current treatments cannot repair damaged lungs
However, some treatments may reduce the risk of flare-ups.
Why World COPD Day is Important
It’s an opportunity to make more people aware
Despite how common it is, many people don’t quite know what C.O.P.D. is and how it affects them. They may already have the symptoms and not realize it by dismissing them as just some cough.
It’s a day in which experts discuss new ways to reduce the problem
As we’ve mentioned, the GOLD organizes international conferences about this topic, including satellite conferences. That way, every professional can learn about the newest findings and help all of us.
It’s important to remember the facts
With the stress of daily life, it’s possible to forget if we’re at risk or not, or how serious this disease is. Having this day serves as a reminder of the data, symptoms, prevention methods, and treatments.
World COPD Day dates