What is COPD?

Female nurse smiling at mature woman sitting in chair.

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

In the early stages there may be no symptoms, or you may only have mild symptoms. As COPD worsens, the symptoms may become more severe.

Symptoms of COPD include:

  • A cough that lingers for a long time and doesn’t go away completely, or a cough that produces a lot of mucus
  • Shortness of breath, especially with physical activity
  • Wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe)
  • Tightness in the chest

Not everyone with these symptoms has COPD. Be sure to consult your physician to determine if you have COPD or another condition that may be similar.

Treatment options that you and your physician may consider include:

  • Quit smoking.
  • Avoid tobacco smoke and air pollutants at home and at work.
  • Ask your physician about pulmonary rehabilitation
  • Take prescription medication. Symptoms such as coughing or wheezing can be treated with medication from your physician.
  • Avoid lung infections and keep current with your vaccinations.
  • Use supplemental oxygen.

Source: cdc.gov