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16M Americans Living With…

By on November 12, 2013

Breathing: in with the good air and out with the bad. It’s that simple.

But if you’re one of the 16 million Americans with COPD, nothing is simple. Ordinary tasks like walking up a flight of stairs or making your bed can cause wheezing, coughing, and pronounced shortness of breath.

COPD is a progressive disease: It develops slowly and worsens over time. And as COPD worsens, breathlessness may begin to severely limit your daily physical activities, leaving you tired, weak, and depressed. COPD can be a debilitating and deadly disease — but it doesn’t have to be this way. There are many steps you can take to identify and treat COPD at its earliest stages BEFORE it causes serious lung damage.

Managing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

The goals of COPD treatment include:

  • Relieving your symptoms
  • Slowing the progress of the disease
  • Improving your exercise tolerance (your ability to stay active)
  • Preventing and treating complications
  • Improving your overall health

Pulmonary rehabilitation is a critical part of COPD therapy. But if you smoke, quitting smoking is the most important step you can take to treat COPD. Depending on the severity of your COPD, your doctor may prescribe short-acting or long-acting bronchodilators. There may also be necessary lifestyle changes to adopt.

Talk with your doctor about programs and products that can help you quit.These special programs combine stretching, resistance training, and endurance training to get patients moving and boost sagging spirits. And for those patients not successful with medication, there is Lung-volume reduction surgery (LRVS) and lung transplant surgery. They both  can improve quality of life for select patients with severe emphysema.

Most of the time, COPD is diagnosed in middle-aged or older adults. The disease isn’t passed from person to person—you can’t catch it from someone else. COPD has no cure yet, and doctors don’t know how to reverse the damage to the airways and lungs. However, treatments and lifestyle changes can help you feel better, stay more active, and slow the progress of the disease.


Content courtesy of Johns Hopkins Medicine and National Institutes of Health

One Comment

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