Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, is a respiratory condition characterized by shortness of breath and coughing. Smog is a major irritant and forms of this disease include bronchitis and emphysema.
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Martin Vanderwoude: Like most of us Beatrice Hisch loves being outdoors during warm summer months, but when the mercury rises and the warm weather turns into a humid smoggy haze, that can spell trouble. Beatrice Hisch: I do wait for the summer, so that I can be outside, and enjoy life in the open. But unfortunately, because of smog, it's difficult to do anything, it's the smog that is a great problem. And I feel that I have to stay in morning go out. Martin Vanderwoude: 27 years ago, Beatrice was diagnosed with the respiratory disease know as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD, a condition characterized by shortness of breathe and coughing. The two major forms of the disease include chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Dr. Alan Kaplan specializes in the treatment of COPD, and is also with the Family Physicians Airways Group of Canada. Dr. Alan Kaplan: When you have COPD, every breathe is a struggle. In analogy, it's trying to breathe through a straw all day long. Summer smog is another irritant. It makes breathing even more difficult. So we should try to avoid the irritants in the air. We can do that by going inside to an air-conditioned home, even a few hours in an air conditioned environment can help you breathing. Martin Vanderwoude: And with the number of smog days steadily increasing, it's becoming more and more important that patients speak to their doctors about spirometry testing, once daily treatment, and tips for coping with the smoggy weather. Dr. Alan Kaplan: Currently in Canada, there are 750,000 people diagnosed with COPD. But I should add that probably under estimates the true number by a half to two-thirds. The diagnosis of COPD is made through a simple breathing test called Spirometry. Spirometry should be done on people who smoked or are still smoking and have a respiratory symptoms such as cough or recurrent chest infections. Beatrice Hisch: Anybody who has smoked, and feels any sort of symptoms needs to go to the doctor and needs to have a simple spirometry test, and that will help them hopefully if it's not serious, but as soon as you catch up that. Martin Vanderwoude: For more information about COPD, visit www.copdhelp.ca. Martin Vanderwoude reporting.

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