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What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)?

COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.  It is a combination of two lung diseases—chronic bronchitis and emphysema—that make breathing difficult. 

Chronic bronchitis inflames the bronchial tubes (that carry air to the lungs) and creates abnormal amounts of mucus.  This causes the tubes to narrow and makes it difficult to breathe.  With emphysema, air sacs in the lungs are damaged, and the lungs are unable to move as much air in and out.

Symptoms of COPD include:

  • A chronic cough
  • Expelling mucus when you cough
  • Shortness of breath (that worsens with activity)
  • Wheezing (whistling or squeaking when breathing)
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent colds or flu
  • Lung infections (more than one per year)

Many people ignore the early warning signs of COPD.  If you suffer from shortness of breath, tell your doctor because this symptom should never be ignored.

The main cause of COPD is long-term smoking.  Years of breathing in irritants that damage the lungs usually results in COPD. To diagnose COPD, your doctor may perform a spirometry test to measure lung function or how much air is moving in and out of your body.  Once your doctor understands how well your lungs are functioning, he or she will know how to treat it. There are lifestyle changes you can make to improve your quality of life if you are diagnosed with COPD.  Quit smoking, follow a healthy diet, exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight.  Get your annual flu shot and a pneumonia shot to help avoid any COPD complications. There is no cure for COPD, but you can work with your doctor to create a treatment plan to help you stay active and improve your overall health.

Editor’s Note:  Thanks to Peoples Health for this informative article.  View Peoples Health's Listing on


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