Don't ignore getting out of breath
Teresa talks about a new campaign encouraging people to take feeling breathless seriously.
Last month, Public Health England (PHE) launched a campaign to get people in the East of England talking about breathlessness. The campaign features a TV advert reminding people to visit their doctor if they get out of breath doing everyday activities. Roadshows are also being held across the region highlighting how important it is to get this symptom – which could be a sign of a lung condition - checked out.
Don’t let breathlessness fool you
Everyone feels breathless at some point - but getting out of breath doing everyday tasks, such as mowing the lawn or climbing the stairs, could be due to a more serious health problem. A PHE survey showed that a third of people in the East of England couldn't name a health condition associated with being out of breath.
That’s alarmingly high, especially when you think about the estimated 2.2 million people in the UK living with undiagnosed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Getting out of breath is one of the main symptoms of conditions like COPD, which can affect many aspects of day-to-day life. The main message of the campaign is that you shouldn't consider being out of breath just a normal part of ageing or put it down to being unfit. If you feel breathless you should see your GP as soon as possible.
People don’t want to bother their GP
The survey also revealed that nearly 6 in 10 adults in the East of England would put off going to their GP if they suffered from breathlessness. Almost 1 in 4 said they were worried they’d be wasting the doctor’s time and almost a quarter didn't think being out of breath is serious enough to seek advice from a doctor. Getting to a GP early and getting that crucial diagnosis could really make the difference in getting better treatment options and a better quality of life. So while it could well be nothing serious, it's important to seek advice as soon as possible.
What we’re doing
Being able to share stories about personal experiences can make a difference to any campaign. Some members of our Breathe Easy support groups have played a key role by sharing their own experiences of being out of breath with their local press, and encouraging people not to ignore their symptoms. Some of our medical advisers have also been busy talking to the press (listen from 1h05m) about what exactly breathlessness means and how seeing a doctor about being out of breath isn't a waste of time at all!
Evaluating the impact
To make sure the campaign is as effective as possible, health care professionals will be sharing which parts have worked well, and which parts could be improved to make even more impact. Hopefully we'll be seeing campaigns like this rolled out across the rest of England and the UK, encouraging more people to go to their GP about their breathlessness, and more people getting the treatment and support for a better quality of life.
If you're experiencing breathlessness, book an appointment with your GP as soon as possible. You can also call our helpline on 03000 030 555, Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm, and read our breathlessness information online.