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Your health: Better breathing

Take a deep breath. Was that difficult? If so, you may want to check out a new public service guide from the Men’s Health Network. “Breathe Easy: Your Lungs and COPD” focuses on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the third-leading cause of death in the United States, according to the nonprofit. About 12 million Americans have COPD, which is a treatable disease, and it is estimated that 12 million more have symptoms that are undiagnosed.

Among those symptoms are a persistent cough, difficulty breathing while walking or talking, blue fingernails or lips, and coughing up mucus. The biggest red flag is coughing up blood. “This is never a good sign,” the guide says. “If you haven’t done so already, you need to call your doctor right now.” The guide explains that smoking, poor air quality, asthma and childhood lung infections are all risk factors for COPD. There’s also information about COPD in women – who tend to experience more severe symptoms than men – and advice for talking to your doctor. “Breathe Easy” is free and available for download in the library section at

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