A Hickstead resident is encouraging others to take their lung health seriously after being left with reduced lung capacity.
Jenny Ellingford, 65, has been sharing the challenges she faces living with the lung condition chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Jenny supported the British Lung Foundation’s campaign on World COPD Day (November 16) after the charity revealed millions of people across the UK suffer from COPD without knowing.
Jenny’s COPD and asthma was well-controlled for 50 years until a heavy downpour flooded her home and left a ‘white gloopy type of fungus’ on her floorboards.
This mould called Aspergillus is usually harmless, but for some people with lung disease, or a compromised immune system, it is deadly.
Jenny said: “I struggled to breathe on an almost daily basis and the inhalers I’d taken since childhood weren’t controlling it anymore. I must have had eight hospital admissions in one year and was almost continually on antibiotics and steroids because of chest infections.”
After turning blue as she became unable to clear mucus from her lungs and throat in 2012, doctors finally diagnosed Jenny with the lung condition Aspergillosis, caused by the mould in her home.
Her home has now been repaired but the damage to Jenny’s lungs is permanent, leaving her with greatly reduced lung capacity.
Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation Dr Penny Woods said: “COPD isn’t just a smokers’ disease. It usually develops because of long-term damage to your lungs from breathing in a harmful substance, usually cigarette smoke, as well as smoke from other sources and air pollution. Jobs where people are exposed to dust, fumes and chemicals can also contribute to developing COPD. That could be anyone.
“We’re aware of 1.2 million diagnosed with the condition but that’s the tip of the iceberg. Millions have this life-limiting lung disease and they don’t even know it.”
World COPD Day is designed to raise awareness of other possible symptoms, such as having a cough that lasts a long time, wheezing in cold weather and producing more sputum or phlegm than usual.
You might get these symptoms all the time, or they might appear or get worse when you have an infection or breathe in smoke or fumes.
The charity’s helpline provides advice on COPD and other lung conditions on 03000 030 555. Information is also available from the charity’s website: blf.org.uk/COPD.
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