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Get the Facts on COPD

About COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, refers to a group of diseases that cause airflow blockage and breathing-related problems. It includes emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and in some cases, asthma.

What causes COPD?
In the United States, tobacco use is a key factor in the development and progression of COPD, but asthma, exposure to air pollutants in the home and workplace, genetic factors, and respiratory infections also play a role. In the developing world, indoor air quality is thought to play a larger role in the development and progression of COPD than it does in the United States.

How can COPD be prevented?
Early detection of COPD might change its course and progress. A simple test can be used to measure pulmonary function and detect COPD in current and former smokers aged 45 years and older and in anyone with breathing problems. You should avoid tobacco use or inhaling tobacco smoke, home and workplace air pollutants, and respiratory infections to prevent early development of COPD.

How is COPD treated?
Treatment of COPD requires a careful and thorough evaluation by a physician. The most important aspect of treatment is avoiding tobacco smoke and removing other air pollutants from your home or workplace. Symptoms such as coughing or wheezing can be treated with medication. Respiratory infections should be treated with antibiotics, if appropriate. People who have low blood oxygen levels in their blood are often given supplemental oxygen.


To learn more about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, visit

Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

This article was originally published in Coping® with Allergies & Asthma magazine, Winter 2010-2011.