Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a common lung condition that makes it difficult to breathe due to the irritation and restriction of the airways. It is a very common lung disease in the US, affecting around 24 million Americans. The main cause of COPD is smoking, most often from cigarettes. Other potential causes include exposure to secondhand smoke, air pollution, and occupational dusts and chemicals.

Symptoms of COPD

COPD can affect people in different ways, but some of the main symptoms include:

  • Coughing that produces a lot of mucus.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Wheezing.
  • Chest tightness.
  • People with COPD may also experience fatigue, depression, and bloating.

    Diagnosis and Treatment of COPD

    If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of COPD, you should see a doctor. Your doctor will likely perform a physical exam and use a breathing test to diagnose COPD. Treatment for COPD usually includes a combination of medications, lifestyle changes, and breathing exercises. Medications including bronchodilators, corticosteroids, and antibiotics may be used to manage the symptoms. Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, avoiding air pollution, and exercising regularly can also help improve symptoms. Finally, breathing exercises such as pursed-lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing can help improve lung capacity and reduce shortness of breath.