Imagine what it would feel like to take a breath when your lungs were already full of air. Try this. Take in a deep breath. Hold it in for three seconds and don’t exhale. Now try taking another breath. And another one. It’s not easy is it? This is a feeling some people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) live with every day of their lives.
Simple activities, like walking up stairs or on a gradual incline, are an everyday struggle for people living with COPD. Most people don’t spend time thinking about their breathing, but for some it consumes their daily life.
COPD is an umbrella term that describes respiratory conditions limiting airflow to the lungs. It is the third leading cause of death across the globe, and currently affects approximately 329 million people worldwide - that’s an increase of 65% since 1990. So, more should be done to help people with COPD get their condition under control.
José is 64 years old and lives in Lisbon. He has been living with COPD for 15 years. Since his diagnosis he has had to make significant changes to his life. Below he gives his perspective on the impact that COPD has on him.
Since being diagnosed with COPD, I’ve had to adapt to a new reality. As time passes, I’ve developed an understanding of what my limits are. The main symptoms I have are shortness of breath, feeling tired and coughing – especially in the morning. I struggle to climb up the stairs and if I walk on slopes, no matter how small the incline, I get out of breath. Even those normal “runs” we need to do in our daily lives make me tired, for instance: I struggle with speeding up to catch a bus or a train.
Now with my experience of living with the condition, I do things differently. I have to perform activities slower. I take my time with everything that I do. I have to be sure not to panic, and to try and control my breathing, remain calm and take deep breaths.
The most accurate way I can describe my breathless feeling is helpless. Having COPD is incapacitating and you can’t help feeling powerless and afflicted.
It’s a tough disease but there are steps you can take to avoid your health deteriorating. My advice to others living with COPD is to ask for help and guidance from your doctor and also from other people that suffer from the disease. Contact patient support groups if you can. This can help you take control.
GSK’s commitment to respiratory disease
We have a long heritage in research and innovation around respiratory disease. Over the past 40 years, we have invested more in respiratory research than any other company.
We remain committed to developing treatments that help patients worldwide who suffer from breathing-related illnesses do more, feel better and live longer. This requires a deep understanding of respiratory disease, a promise to furthering the science, and an awareness that every patient’s experience is different.
For more information about one of the ways we help patients to manage their own health, read about the mobile apps we have developed.