What is COPD?

Not an actual patient.

COPD is a lung disease that gets worse over time, making it harder and harder to breathe.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) includes 2 different lung conditions:

  • Emphysema
    Involves damage to the air sacs in the lungs and can cause shortness of breath and a tight feeling in the chest.
  • Chronic Bronchitis
    A swelling of the airways that causes a phlegmy cough and wheezing and can make it hard to breathe.
Chronic Bronchitis and/or Emphysema

Your doctor may perform a spirometry test to determine if you have COPD. This test measures how much air your lungs can hold and how forcefully you can breathe out.

There is no cure for COPD, but it is manageable—typically through a combination of proper medication and positive lifestyle changes

What are the symptoms of COPD?

Persistent Coughing

Persistent coughing, sometimes called "smoker's cough"

Wheezing & Tightness of Lungs

Wheezing and tightness in the chest

Shortness of Breath

Shortness of breath

Excess Mucus Production

Chronic/excess mucus production in the lungs

COPD symptoms may be mild at first, but can get worse over time

What causes COPD?


Smoking is the top cause of COPD

Environmental exposure

Environmental exposure (air pollution, secondhand smoke, chemicals)


Genetic factors (specifically alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency)

The primary cause of COPD is long-term exposure to irritants that damage the lungs

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