November Is COPD Awareness Month

New treatments: From surviving to thriving

Patrick Gentry
November 15, 2018 - 12:42 pm

More than 11 million Americans live with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including 305,600 in South Carolina, which means you or someone you know may be living with this chronic lung disease and experiencing shortness of breath that interferes with planned activities. Living with a chronic lung disease and the stress of struggling to breathe can be taxing for both the individual and their loved ones. While there is no cure for COPD, there are treatment options that can drastically improve quality of life.

During COPD Awareness Month, the American Lung Association is highlighting the value of supplemental oxygen, or oxygen therapy, a treatment option that may be prescribed by your doctor.  When you are not getting enough oxygen, it can make you feel fatigued, making simple tasks a struggle. Oxygen therapy can help circulate more oxygen into your bloodstream, helping you breathe easier and stay more active.

There are several devices used to deliver oxygen at home. Oxygen is usually delivered through nasal prongs (an oxygen cannula) or a face mask. Oxygen equipment can also attach to other medical equipment such as CPAP machines and ventilators.  Your healthcare provider will help you choose the right equipment for you.

Through a number of interactive tools on, the Lung Association offers videos and resources on how to get started with oxygen therapy and care for the equipment. If you or someone you know is living with COPD, keep these tips in mind as you begin or continue with oxygen therapy.  

  • Safety. While oxygen therapy is safe it does contribute to flammability as materials in oxygen-enriched environments burn more readily. Proper storage, along with avoiding aerosols, heat and flames will help keep you safe.
  • Travel. With supplemental oxygen you are able to travel whether it be by car, train, plane or boat. Make sure to connect with your mode of transportation prior to departure to learn their policies and procedures for carrying oxygen. You’ll also want to make sure you’re able to access additional oxygen once you reach your destination.
  • Support. Sometimes a question about oxygen therapy is too complex for a search engine. If you have additional questions you can contact registered nurses, respiratory therapists and counselors on the Lung Association’s Lung HelpLine available at 1-800-LUNGUSA or through chat at  Detailed and accurate information is available and callers are connected with the same specialist for check-ins and call backs.   Also consider joining a local Better Breathers Club, a free support group for adults with chronic lung disease.  You can find one at

If you have any questions about oxygen therapy or managing your COPD you can join our free, online Living with COPD Inspire community and “Ask the Expert,” David Hill, M.D., a pulmonologist and volunteer for the American Lung Association, throughout the month of November.  You can also visit the American Lung Association website at or call the free Lung HelpLine 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872).

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