November 17th 2021 is the 20th annual World COPD Day, intended to raise awareness for those living with COPD.
Even in the light of COVID, it is particularly important to prevent lung disease and protect those with underlying lung conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD remains the second-leading cause of hospitalization on PEI with over 10,000 Islanders living with the condition.
Keeping your lungs healthy can include getting screened for the Canadian lung health test, staying active, quitting cigarettes, and vaping products, getting vaccinated and managing your lung condition.
Health PEI’s COPD Coordinator, Heather Cyr, encourages Islanders to take the Canadian Lung Health Test to better recognize the signs of COPD. “Often people do not recognize that being short of breath while walking up the stairs or having a cough that won’t go away, could be a sign of COPD. It is important that people get properly diagnosed so that they can receive the right treatment and self-manage their condition to slow down the damage to their lungs”. Anyone over the age of 40 with a current or past smoking history is encouraged to take the Canadian Lung Health Test. If you answer yes to any of the questions on this test, it is suggested that you have further screening for COPD called spirometry testing. This can be arranged through your doctor or nurse practitioner.
Staying active with regular exercise helps make your lungs stronger and reduce your risk of lung disease. Try inviting a friend to go for a walk or check out a local recreation program in your area from go!PEI gopei.ca/.
The most important thing you can do for your health is quit smoking. Making a plan to quit smoking or vaping can greatly increase your chances of being successful. Islanders interested in quitting can receive free smoking cessation products, such as the patch, through the PEI Smoking Cessation Drug Assistance Program. For more information on the program, call 902-368-4319 or email email@example.com
Living with COPD can introduce many challenges. The PEI Lung Association offers a virtual support group for Islanders with COPD. “Our support group sessions provide Islanders with an opportunity to connect with others living with COPD, who understand the challenges that the condition can bring and can offer real life solutions. Particularly during this challenging time, Islanders with COPD are often isolated and have concerns that they want to share and learn more about.”
The group also offers a chance to ask questions to a respiratory therapist and learn tips on managing their condition. New members are always welcome and can register online: pei.lung.ca/copd-virtual-support-group or by calling 902-892-5957.
The year-old program works to collect sleep apnea machines that are no longer in use and refurbish them to be given out to those in need. Sleep apnea machines can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $8,000, and many Islanders do not have private insurance and cannot afford the cost of machine.
Untreated sleep apnea can cause other major health issues like high blood pressure heart arrythmia, stroke, diabetes, depression and more. Fletcher, who has had sleep apnea for ten years, and recently needed the new machine, recounts the positive impacts she felt after starting sleep apnea therapy. Without the therapy Fletcher says she suffered constant headaches, was sore all over and was constantly tired, no matter how long she slept. Being able to receive therapy for her sleep apnea has changed her life, Fletcher says, describing the increased amount of energy she now has along with the elimination of her headaches and pain.
Cora Fletcher is just one of 100 Islanders who have been able to live a better life thanks to the provisions of our Sleep Apnea Refurbishment Program. As our program continues to operate, we hope to help more Islanders get the treatment they need to live a healthier and happier life.
Learn more about the program here.
Volunteer to Support our Sleep Apnea Refurbishment Program
The success of this program would not be possible without our partnership with organizations such as local sleep apnea machine providers, Lions Clubs, Dalhousie University Respiratory Therapy Program and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital who work together to collect, refurbish and distribute these life-altering machines to Islanders in need.
We are currently looking for support to expand our program, allowing us to refurbish and collect more machines, with the goal of decreasing wait times and increasing machine availability for Islanders in need. If you or your organization are interested in volunteering or partnering with our program, please contact us by email or phone.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 902-892-5957