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Coping with COPD

(KYTX) -   Breathing is something we do all day long, but most of us never actually think about think about it. But, for about 12 million Americans, breathing is a matter of fighting for air.

East Texas has The highest concentration of preventable hospital visits from COPD In the state. That's according to research from the Department of State Health Services.

COPD is a preventable disease that limits airflow to our lungs. It's mainly caused by smoking and it is not fully reversible. But, doctors say there are steps people can take to make breathing with COPD a little easier.

The first step to breathing easier is to quit smoking smoking. Trinity Mother Frances Chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Dr. Joe Zasik says that advice goes for everyone.
"I would strongly recommend not to pick up that habit. If your significant other is a smoker, i would kind of go looking for another significant other."

He says he's seen the damage long-term secondhand smoke can cause in his own patients. 
"There's a lot of females, where their husbands have been heavy smokers at home, their parents have been heavy smokers, so they got a lot of exposure from that. It's sad to watch a parent with young children in the car, windows rolled up and they're smoking. So, the kids are getting the same effect as the parents."
Former smokers are speaking out about what it's like to live with COPD in these videos for the Centers for Disease Control. 

"I'd woken up in the morning and i was having extreme difficulty trying to take a breath. Every breath was filled with stark-raving, mind-numbing terror because every cell in my body was screaming to me that i was suffocating to death and i was going to die."

According to the National Health Lung and Blood Institute, COPD is responsible for one death every four minutes in the United States. 

To improve breathing with COPD, Dr. Zasik also recommends avoiding strong odors, perfumes, and being around pets that shed. If you can avoid pollen, do that too.
"This time of year, i would stay out of the hot, humid, middle-of-the-day routine. If i was to go out, i would go out early in the morning or late at night."

He says you can also improve your lung function by getting regular exercise.