About COPD

What is COPD?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a group of diseases including Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis, that cause airflow blockage and difficulty breaking. 

While there is no known cure for COPD, this disease can be easily managed if diagnosed and treated by your doctor. 

COPD is a leading cause of death in the U.S and the fourth leading cause of disability in the U.S.

16 million people have been diagnosed with COPD, with millions being undiagnosed. 

Women represent 56% of COPD cases in the U.S. 

COPD symptoms impact peoples ability to perform daily living activities. 

Treating COPD costs the US over $30 billion per year. 

The majority of people with COPD are over the age of 45.

Symptoms

Often symptoms of COPD can be mistaken as a normal part of ageing. Some of the common symptoms of COPD are:  

Shortness of breath

Frequent coughing

Increased phlegm or mucus

Common causes of COPD

Tobacco smoking

Smoking is the number one cause of COPD in the United States. 

Genetic

The genetic condition called Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency can also increase your risk of developing COPD, for further information click here. 

Hazardous air pollution

COPD can also be caused by long term exposure to occupational or environmental pollutants

Exacerbations

Flare ups or exacerbations happen when your symptoms increasingly worsen over a short period of time. This can sometimes be caused by infections or air pollution and can lead to: 

Poorer lung function

Increased shortness of breath

Decline in quality of life

Flare ups can be dangerous and potentially require hospitalisation. It’s important to ask your doctor about creating a COPD Action Plan, this will help you understand what to do when you experience an exacerbation.

For more information on COPD Action Plans click below.

How to manage COPD

If you are a smoker quitting smoking is the most important treatment to improve your health and symptoms.

For more information on how to quit smoking click below.

Pulmonary rehabilitation programs can improve shortness of breath, and quality of life in addition to reducing anxiety and frequency of exacerbations.

To find pulmonary rehabilitation programs in your area click below.

The majority of medication used to treat COPD are taken using an inhaler (puffer). Over 50% of patients do not use inhalers correctly.

Click here for videos on how to use your inhalers correctly.

COPD can increase your risk of catching the flu and pneumonia. It’s important to speak with your doctor to ensure your flu and pneumonia vaccinations are up to date each year.
Click here to find out where you can get vaccinated in your area.
COPD can cause low blood oxygen levels and may require you to receive extra oxygen from a tank, liquid systems or a concentrator.

For further information on oxygen therapy click here.
The physical side of COPD can sometimes affect your mood and emotional heath. It’s important to speak to your doctor if you begin to feel COPD is affecting emotional aspects of your life.

Click here for more information on available COPD support services.

Living with COPD

It’s important to understand COPD is a manageable condition and you are not alone. Joining a COPD support group can be a great opportunity to connect with other people who share common experiences. 

COPD360social is an interactive online community where you can connect with patients, healthcare providers and caregivers, as well as ask questions and receive support. To learn more about COPD360social click here. 

Online resources on how to manage COPD