What is COPD ?

COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is a term that includes emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic asthma which isn’t fully reversible.   It is a long term disease of the lungs that has no cure. My COPD is in my airways.  Years of infections and pollutants has caused scar tissue to build up to the point of being a chronic restriction where airflow to my lungs is very limited. COPD in many cases is related to long term cigarette smoking which causes damage not only to the airways but to the lungs as well.


World COPD Day is November 19th, its aim is to raise awareness about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and improve COPD care throughout the world. What many people don’t know is despite falling death rates, COPD is still a leading cause of death and disease burden after heart disease, stroke and cancer. Australia has one of the highest rates of COPD deaths in the developed world – Australian mortality rates place Australia in the worst third of the 34 OECD countries.


One major complaint of people suffering COPD is constantly being tired and for healthy people it maybe a little hard to understand why. The simplest of things make me breathless, getting out of bed, brushing my teeth, having a shower, walking upstairs, add to that a day with lots of pollutants in the air and some days can be pretty tough. I’ve previously talked about my lung capacity being between 22-30%, so I live with labored breathing 24/7. If you can imagine a healthy person being puffed after a slow jog that is how I feel all the time.  Being short of breath all the time means your organs are working harder to breath and that can also affect the oxygen levels in your blood. With all this going on its no wonder COPD sufferers are constantly tired.


COPD has affected my life in many ways good and bad, but like many chronic diseases it’s all about managing your disease.  My day starts with two puffs of three different types of reliever and preventative medications.  During the day Leanne will mix up a vitamin concoction with vitamin c , zinc and a powder with vegetable extracts.  I generally eat pretty healthy foods and always have a zinc powder with a drink before bed.  If I compared this with other respiratory disease sufferers I’m sure I’d find many doing similar things. Diet & exercise is a big part of maintaining an acceptable quality of life.  I have noticed when I’m having time off training my weight increases and my breathing becomes more labored.

Motivating yourself to have a regular exercise regime can be tough sometimes and I have certainly had days when I have found it hard to do anything.  Lets face it the thought of doing something that will make you breathless when your already struggling to breath is not that appealing and challenges your mental toughness. Finding a way to keep the motivation to exercise will vary from person to person.  My way is to enter events. Whether its a sprint distance triathlon, a charity ride or Ironman races once I’ve entered, I feel compelled to see it through and that means lots of exercise. I’m currently training for a race called the Harvey Bay 100 which is held at the end of November, however due to a large work load I have decided to enter as a team in which I will be doing the cycle leg of 80klms.

There are many sites with great information about management programs including National Asthma Council Australia    Lung FoundationAustralia    COPD International  Healthline

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