The official blog of the Lung Institute.
June is Men’s Health Month, as set forth by the non-profit Men’s Health Network. The goal of the month is to heighten the public’s awareness of the many preventable health problems that affect men and boys.
The Men’s Health Network aims to reach men where they live, work, play and pray with health prevention messaging and tools, health screening programs, educational materials, advocacy opportunities and patient navigation. The focus for Men’s Health Month is health issues that befall men, but specifically those problems that are preventable. One such health problem? Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
COPD and Men’s Health Month
COPD is an umbrella term that includes conditions like chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It is characterized by a chronic cough, usually with mucus, shortness of breath and chest tightness. These symptoms can worsen and cause exacerbations, or flare-ups, which can often lead to a trip to the hospital.
COPD is usually caused by long-term exposure to lung irritants that damage the airways and lungs. The main cause of COPD is smoking. Approximately 90 percent of people with COPD are current or former smokers. Secondhand smoke, workplace fumes, vapors, dusts and exposure to air pollution are the other causes.
Preventing COPD in Men
COPD, in most cases, is preventable because tobacco-related death is preventable. COPD is currently the third-leading cause of death in the United States, with 12 million people diagnosed with COPD, and another 12 million walking around undiagnosed. COPD is treatable, and quitting smoking is the first step. Of course, this is easier said than done. For resources to help quit smoking, please click here and be sure to consult your physician.
According to the Men’s Health Network, “One of the main reasons men have high rates of death from COPD is never having received much information on the subject. Lung cancer is not the only thing smokers have to be concerned about.” Many men may not be aware of the risk of COPD. Even a chronic, lingering cough that many disregard as “smoker’s cough” can be the early stages of COPD. Unfortunately, many do not seek medical treatment until their COPD begins truly affecting their everyday life.
COPD affects your quality of life making everyday tasks difficult. As COPD progresses, many people need to use supplemental oxygen or wheelchairs. COPD can also affect the heart because it becomes more difficult for the heart to efficiently pump blood throughout the body. Due to the prevalence of smoking, COPD is an important health issue for men. And as you age, the risk for COPD grows.
One large part of this phenomenon that ties in to Men’s Health Month is awareness. There is a lack of knowledge about COPD, and the dangers of this progressive condition. Events like Men’s Health Month encourage awareness, which helps bring attention to COPD and other preventable conditions. We owe it to our fathers, grandfathers and the important men in our life to help spread the word about a condition that may affect and help them to stay healthy.