What is COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to group of lung conditions that cause breathing difficulties, which include emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and in some cases, asthma. Severity of symptoms depends on the damage on your lungs due to habits like smoking. Though there is no cure, COPD can be treated if diagnosed properly by a doctor.

Symptoms of COPD

With COPD, abnormalities in the small airways of the lungs, causing limitation of airflow in and out of the lungs. While it is a progressive disease that gets worse over time, COPD is treatable. Most people with COPD can achieve good symptom control and quality of life with proper management. Signs and symptoms of COPD include:


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to a group of diseases that cause airflow blockage and breathing-related problems. COPD includes emphysema; chronic bronchitis; and in some cases, asthma.

With COPD, less air flows through the airways—the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. In the early stages of COPD, there may be no symptoms, or you may only have mild symptoms

How severe your COPD symptoms are depends on how damaged your lungs are. If you keep smoking, the damage will get worse faster than if you stop smoking.  It’s always best to have a doctor diagnose it properly.

COPD is usually caused by smoking. Smoking accounts for as many as 8 out of 10 COPD-related deaths. However, as many as 1 out of 4 Americans with COPD never smoked cigarettes.

Smoking during childhood and teenage years can slow how lungs grow and develop. This can increase the risk of developing COPD in adulthood.

The best way to prevent COPD is to never start smoking, and if you smoke, quit. Talk with your doctor about programs and products that can help you quit. Also, stay away from secondhand smoke, which is smoke from burning tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars, or pipes.  Secondhand smoke also is smoke that has been exhaled, or breathed out, by a person smoking.

Treatment of COPD requires a careful and thorough exam by a doctor. Quitting smoking is the most important first step you can take to treat COPD. Avoiding secondhand smoke is also critical. Lifestyle changes and other treatment will be recommended by your doctor.

Even though there is no cure for COPD, these lifestyle changes and treatments can help you breathe easier, stay more active, and slow the progress of the disease.

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