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COPD

Summary

COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) makes it hard for you to breathe. The two main types are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The main cause of COPD is long-term exposure to substances that irritate and damage the lungs. This is usually cigarette smoke. Air pollution, chemical fumes, or dust can also cause it.

At first, COPD may cause no symptoms or only mild symptoms. As the disease gets worse, symptoms usually become more severe. They include

  • A cough that produces a lot of mucus
  • Shortness of breath, especially with physical activity
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness

Doctors use lung function tests, imaging tests, and blood tests to diagnose COPD. There is no cure. Treatments may relieve symptoms. They include medicines, oxygen therapy, surgery, or a lung transplant. Quitting smoking is the most important step you can take to treat COPD.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Start Here

  • (American Thoracic Society) - PDF
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Symptoms

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Diagnosis and Tests

  • (American Association for Clinical Chemistry)
  • (American Thoracic Society) - PDF
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
  • (American Association for Respiratory Care) - PDF
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Prevention and Risk Factors

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
  • (American Lung Association)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Treatments and Therapies

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
  • (American Lung Association)
  • (American Thoracic Society) - PDF

Living With

Related Issues

  • (American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology)
  • (American Thoracic Society) - PDF
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Images

Statistics and Research

  • (National Center for Health Statistics)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (American Lung Association)

Clinical Trials

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Reference Desk

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Find an Expert

  • From the National Institutes of Health

Seniors

  • (AGS Foundation for Health in Aging)

Patient Handouts

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