What is COPD?

COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

Chronic: It’s long-term and doesn’t go away.

Obstructive: The flow of air from the lungs is partly blocked.

Pulmonary: This is another word for lungs.

Disease: It’s a serious health problem.

COPD is a serious lung disease which makes your breathing difficult. It slowly gets worse over time. Eventually, it may keep you from doing many of the things you enjoy. But while COPD can’t be cured, the good news is that it can be treated.

You cannot get COPD from someone else. Adults get COPD, not children.

What causes COPD?

COPD can be caused by many factors, although the most common cause is cigarette smoke. Genetics and environmental factors may cause COPD. For example, heavy exposure to certain dust at work, chemicals, and indoor or outdoor air pollution can contribute to COPD.

How do I know if I have COPD?

Shortness of breath, cough, and/or mucus production that does not go away are common signs and symptoms of COPD. They indicate the need for a visit to your healthcare provider and possibly the need of a breathing test called spirometry.

Spirometry is a simple test that measures obstruction in your airways, which are the air tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs.

How is COPD treated?

The first and most important treatment in smokers is to stop smoking.

Medicines are usually prescribed to widen the airways (bronchodilators), reduce swelling in the airways (anti-inflammatory drugs), and/or treat infection (antibiotics).

With the latest medicines, which are very effective, you will feel better and be able to enjoy a better quality of life.

To control symptoms of COPD, your medicines must be taken every day, usually for life. Most of these medicines are available in the inhaled form.

COPD can also cause the oxygen level in the blood to be low. If this occurs, supplemental oxygen will be prescribed.

Also, there are pulmonary rehabilitation programs which offer supervised exercise and education for those with breathing problems.

Will COPD ever go away?

The term chronic in COPD means that it lasts for a long time. While symptoms may vary from time to time, the lungs still have the disease. While the symptoms of COPD sometimes improve after a person stops smoking and takes the medication regularly, they can further improve after attending pulmonary rehabilitation.

Shortness of breath and fatigue may never go away entirely. However, patients can learn to manage their condition and continue to lead a fulfilling life.

What can I do to win against COPD?

  • If you are a smoker, stop smoking. It is the most important thing you can do to help your lungs.
  • Take your medicines exactly the way your doctor has asked you to take it.
  • Try to keep the air clean in your home. Stay away from smoke and any kind of fumes and strong smells.
  • Keep your body as healthy and as strong as possible.
  • If breathing becomes very difficult, it could be an emergency. Go to your doctor or a hospital right away.