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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


Alternative Names:

COPD; Chronic obstructive airways disease; Chronic obstructive lung disease; Chronic bronchitis; Emphysema; Bronchitis - chronic

Symptoms:

Symptoms may include any of the following:

  • Cough, with or without mucus
  • Fatigue
  • Many respiratory infections
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea) that gets worse with mild activity
  • Trouble catching one's breath
  • Wheezing

Because the symptoms develop slowly, some people may not know that they have COPD.

Support Groups:

You can ease the stress of illness by joining a support group. Sharing with others who have common experiences and problems can help you not feel alone.

Outlook (Prognosis):

COPD is a long-term (chronic) illness. The disease will get worse more quickly if you do not stop smoking.

If you have severe COPD, you will be short of breath with most activities. You may be admitted to the hospital more often.

Talk with your provider about breathing machines and end-of-life care as the disease progresses.

Possible Complications:

With COPD, you may have other health problems such as:

When to Contact a Medical Professional:

Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if you have a rapid increase in shortness of breath.

Prevention:

Not smoking prevents most COPD. Ask your provider about quit-smoking programs. Medicines are also available to help you stop smoking.

References:

Anderson B, Conner K, Dunn C, et al. Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement. Diagnosis and Management of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). 9th edition. Updated March 2013. https://www.icsi.org/_asset/yw83gh/COPD.pdf. Accessed July 21, 2015.

Celli BR, Zuwallack RL. Pulmonary rehabilitation. In: Broaddus VC, Mason RJ, Ernst JD, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 105.

Han MK, Lazarus SC. COPD. In: Broaddus VC, Mason RJ, Ernst JD, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 44. 


Review Date: 6/22/2015
Reviewed By: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, MHS, Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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