| COPD is the 4th leading cause of death and the 2nd leading cause of disability in the United States. Chronic
Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a lung disease in which the
lungs are damaged, making it hard to breathe. In COPD, the airways are
partly obstructed, making it difficult to get air in and out.
smoking is the most common cause of COPD. Most people with COPD are
smokers or former smokers. Breathing in other kinds of lung irritants,
like pollution, dust or chemicals, over a long period of time may also
cause or contribute to COPD.
COPD develops slowly, and it may
be many years before you notice symptoms like feeling short of breath.
Most of the time, COPD is diagnosed in middle-aged or older people.
is no cure for COPD (which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis).
The damage to your airways and lungs cannot be reversed, but there are
things you can do to feel better and slow the damage. If the lungs are
severely damaged, the heart may be affected. A person with COPD dies
when the lungs and heart are unable to function and get oxygen to the
body’s organs and tissues, or when a complication such as a severe
infection occurs. It is not contagious-you cannot catch it from someone
- Sputum (mucus) production
medical history, physical exam, and breathing tests are the most
important determinants for COPD. Your doctor will use a breathing test
called spirometry to confirm a diagnosis of COPD. This test is easy and
painless and shows how well your lungs work. Spirometry is the most
sensitive and commonly used test of lung functions. It can detect COPD
long before you have significant symptoms.
- Shortness of breath, especially with exercise
smoking is the single most important thing you can do to reduce your
risk of developing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and
slow the progress of the disease. The treatment is different for each
person. Medicines and pulmonary rehabilitation are often used to help
relieve your symptoms and to help you breathe more easily and stay
there is no cure for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), your
symptoms can be managed, and damage to your lungs can be slowed. If
you smoke, quitting is the most important thing you can do to help your
lungs. You also need to try to stay away from people who are smoking
or places where there is smoking.
It is important to keep the
air in your home clean. Keep smoke, fumes and strong smells out of your
home. If your home is painted or sprayed for insects, have it done when
you can stay away from your home. Cook near an open door or window. If
you heat with wood or kerosene, keep a door or window open. Keep your
windows closed and stay at home when there is a lot of pollution or
See your doctor at least two times a year, even
when you are feeling fine. Take your medicines as ordered and make sure
to keep them refilled so you don’t run out. Ask your doctor about
getting a flu shot and pneumonia vaccination. Keep your body strong by
learning breathing exercises and walking and exercising regularly. Eat
- Managing Your Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Breathing Better with a COPD Diagnosis
- What is COPD? (available on-line only)