Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) describes a group of lung conditions that make it difficult to empty air out of the lungs because the airways have been narrowed. COPD includes chronic bronchitis, emphysema and chronic asthma.

Breathlessness, a cough and excess phlegm are just some of the symptoms of lung conditions which can get worse in winter and leave people vulnerable to serious chest infections, complications from flu such as pneumonia and potential hospital admission.

In winter the cold air may cause a person’s airways to become narrower. This can make breathing even more difficult than normal for someone with COPD alongside the risk of catching infections and viruses such as flu which circulate at this time of year.

The condition affects 1.2million people in the UK and millions more have COPD but don’t even know about it.

Life with COPD can be difficult. It is a progressive condition, which means there is currently no cure, and everyday tasks can become a challenge.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation classes are held at Harraby Community Centre on a Monday and Wednesday afternoon.

Patients have to be assessed at a clinic by a nurse and a physiotherapist before they can attend the classes.

Medical Director Vince Connolly from North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust has come up with some top tips that can help people living with COPD.

He said:

“Make sure you have enough prescription medication if your symptoms get worse and have this close by at all times.

“Keep the main rooms at 21°C and bedrooms at 18°C. Cold rooms can make breathing more difficult.

“Those with COPD qualify for a free flu jab so ask your GP.

“Stop smoking - for people with COPD this is the most important thing they can do to help their breathing.

“A healthy diet helps improve the immune system so it can fight infection.

“Exercise improves the function of the heart and lungs. Pulmonary rehabilitation classes can help people with COPD learn simple exercises to improve their breathing.”

Individuals who think the Pulmonary Rehabilitation programme may be beneficial to them should discuss with their GP.

Further advice is available on the British Lung Foundation website at: www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/copd