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Why COPD Awareness Month is Important for Workers

November is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Awareness Month, and many people are not aware of the grave impact COPD has on American society. It is the third leading cause of death in the United States. COPD is a serious lung disease that causes obstruction in airflow to and from the lungs. COPD is often misunderstood because many people believe that is only associated with smoking, but this is not the case.

Who is Vulnerable to COPD?

COPD can also affect people who do not smoke since it can be caused by environmental factors, such as the inhalation of chemicals or respiratory irritants in the workplace or home. COPD can also develop in people who have a history of serious respiratory infections and in children and adults who live with smokers.  Children who continually inhale smoke before their lungs fully form, including teenage smokers, are at risk of developing COPD. Babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy are also at risk.

Employers must also be aware of conditions in the workplace that can increase the chances of employees developing COPD. If there are conditions that put employees at risk, employers should provide proper ventilation or equipment that reduces the impact of environmental factors on employees.

What are the Symptoms of COPD?

Some common symptoms of COPD include:

  • Persistent cough
  • Increased mucus
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Regular chest tightening

These symptoms may come and go and may not be present every day. As the disease progresses, new symptoms may include:

  • Morning headaches
  • Blueness of the fingernail beds and lips
  • Lower muscle endurance
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling in the lower extremities

COPD flare ups are when a patient is enduring acute exacerbation. Pollution or respiratory infections can cause a flare up. Symptoms can include fever, change in mucus color, or a sudden increase in mucus.

What Should a Worker Do if They Have COPD?

Knowing the symptoms of COPD and flare ups is important since many patients go years before being diagnosed with COPD. If a worker develops an illness because of conditions at work, they are likely entitled to workers’ compensation. If an employee believes that their COPD is linked to workplace conditions, they should speak to a lawyer about their concerns. A lawyer will be able to determine if the employee is able to receive benefits.

Chester County Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Wusinich, Sweeney & Ryan, LLC Provide Legal Assistance to Employees with Work-Related COPD

Our Chester County workers’ compensation lawyers at Wusinich, Sweeney & Ryan, LLC help sick workers receive benefits for recovery. If you believe you have work-related COPD, we can assess your case and help you with your claim. Contact us online or call us at 610-594-1600 for a free consultation today. Located in Exton, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Downingtown, West Chester, Exton, Coatesville, Phoenixville, Malvern, Lyndell, Wagontown, Uwchlan Township, Parkesburg, Chester Springs, Lancaster County, Reading, and Morgantown.