HEALTH experts have warned that thousands of people in South Gloucestershire could be suffering from an undiagnosed lung disease. 

The condition is called Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) and World COPD Day - a special awareness event - is taking place tomorrow (November 15).

There are currently around 17,000 cases of known COPD in South Gloucestershire, Bristol and North Somerset, but it’s estimated that around half of the total number of cases across the area are undiagnosed. 

Dr Jonathan Evans - the clinical lead for Respiratory Conditions at Bristol CCG - said: “Many people with COPD think that they are simply becoming slower and less fit as they get older, which means they delay seeking help.

“COPD restricts the amount of air that can get to your lungs. The early symptoms can be a persistent cough with or without sputum and breathlessness.

"This can happen gradually but eventually COPD can lead to isolation and a reduction in your quality of life.

“If you think you might have symptoms of COPD, we would urge you to book an appointment with your local general practice, where you can be assessed and appropriate investigation arranged.

"If diagnosed at an early stage, this gives you the opportunity to manage the condition more effectively.”

The symptoms of COPD can also be negatively affected by cold weather during the winter months, and sufferers may may become more aware of the problem during the coming weeks.

“The most important thing you can do to help delay or prevent COPD is to stop smoking,” sais Dr Evans.

“The symptoms of COPD can be worsened during the winter because this is when more respiratory infections are around.

"Therefore, if eligible, please also ensure you have your flu vaccination.”

For details about COPD visit the NHS Choices COPD page. For information on stopping smoking, visit the NHS smokefree website.

Support for people with COPD is available from the British Lung Foundation at or 03000 030 555.