One of the top five reasons that Spokane Valley Fire Department gets dispatched to calls is for “Difficulty Breathing”. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, otherwise known as COPD, is the reason for many of these calls. The Spokane Regional Health District indicates that COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in Spokane County, as well as in the entire state of Washington.
Each year, the national campaign for COPD Awareness occurs during the month of November. Public Health organizations across the nation spread the word about COPD. According to the American Lung Association, “an estimated 15.3 million Americans suffer from COPD, and several additional millions likely have COPD and don’t even know it. Early diagnosis and treatment can help people with COPD improve their quality of life and health.”
COPD is a chronic lung disease that makes it very difficult for people to breathe. “Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, … is an umbrella term for both emphysema and chronic bronchitis,” of which smoking is the primary cause, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. As COPD progresses, it can make it more difficult for someone to carry out their normal, daily activities.
As stated by Johns Hopkins Medicine:
- The best way to prevent COPD is to not smoke cigarettes.
- COPD is diagnosed with a simple breathing test (a spirometry).
- COPD is treated with smoking cessation, immunization against influenza and pneumonia, and bronchodilator medications. Oxygen may be required in more advanced stages.
For someone with lung disease, like COPD, smoke from wood heating and smoke from wildfires can worsen the symptoms of COPD. The Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency monitors air quality throughout the year and issues a daily Air Quality Index (AQI). Should the AQI reach high levels, the agency issues burn bans on indoor wood heating and outdoor burning.