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					 i ff i c u l t y B r e a t h i n g Chronic Bronchitis Sm o k e r ’ s C o u g h C h r o n i c C o u g h i n g Wheezing                     E
                                                                           Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
 h y s e m a S h o r t n e s s o f B r e a t h Fe e l i n g o f S u f f o c a t i o n E xc e s s Mu c u s D i ff i c u l t y B r e a t h i n
hronic Bronchitis Sm o k e r ’ s C o u g h C h r o n i c C o u g h i n g Wheezing                        Emphysema Shor tness
 r e a t h Fe e l i n g o f S u f f o c a t i o n E xc e s s Mu c u s D i ff i c u l t y B r e a t h i n g Chronic Bronchitis

        Breathing Better
 m o k e r ’s C o u g h C h r o n i c C o u g h i n g Wheezing             E m p h y s e m a S h o r t n e s s o f B r e a t h Fe e l i n g
 u f f o c a t i o n E xc e s s Mu c u s D i ff i c u l t y B r e a t h i n g Chronic Bronchitis Sm o k e r ’ s C o u g h C h
c C o u g h i n g Wheezing             E m p h y s e m a S h o r t n e s s o f B r e a t h Fe e l i n g o f S u f f o c a t i o n E xc e s s
u s D i ff i c u l t y B r e a t h i n g Chronic Bronchitis Sm o k e r ’ s C o u g h C h r o n i c C o u g h i n g Wheezin

                               With a COPD Diagnosis
 m p h y s e m a S h o r t n e s s o f B r e a t h Fe e l i n g o f S u f f o c a t i o n E xc e s s Mu c u s D i ff i c u l t y B r e a t
 Chronic Bronchitis Sm o k e r ’ s C o u g h C h r o n i c C o u g h i n g Wheezing                        Emphysema Shor tnes
 r e a t h Fe e l i n g o f S u f f o c a t i o n E xc e s s Mu c u s D i ff i c u l t y B r e a t h i n g Chronic Bronchitis
 m o k e r ’s C o u g h C h r o n i c C o u g h i n g Wheezing E m p h y s e m a S h o r t n e s s o f B r e a t h Fe e l i n g o

         did you know?                                                   When COPD is severe, shortness of breath and other
         did you know? cause of death in the
         COPD is the 4th leading                                          when can are diagnosed
                                                                         symptomsyouget in the way of doing even the most
         COPD is the The disease kills of death in
         United States. 3rd leading causemore than 120,000                with copd
                                                                         basic tasks, such as doing light housework, taking a
         the United States and causes serious, long-term
         Americans each year—that’s 1 death every 4                      walk, and even bathing and getting dressed.make
                                                                          There are many things that you can do to
         minutes—and number of people with COPD is
         disability. The causes serious, long-term disability.            living develops slowly, and
                                                                         COPD with COPD easier: can worsen over time,
         increasing. of people 12 COPD is increasing.
         The numberMore thanwithmillion people                           so be sure to report any symptoms you might have
         More than 12diagnosed with are diagnosed with
         are currently million people COPD and an                         Quit Smoking
                                                                         to your doctor as soon as possible, no matter how
         COPD and an additionallikely to have the disease
         additional 12 million are 12 million likely have                 If you smoke, the best thing you can do to prevent
                                                                         mild they may seem.
         the disease and don’t even know it.
         but don’t know it.                                               more damage to your lungs is to quit. Ask your
                                                                          provider about new options for quitting. Many
                                                                         are you at risk?
         what is copd?
         But there is reason for hope. You’ve taken the                   resources to help you risk for getting COPD have
                                                                         Most people who are atquit are available online.
         first step byserious awaredisease that over time
         COPD is a being lung of your symptoms and                        Visit;; or
                                                                         never even heard of it and, in many cases, don’t even
         seeing it hard to breathe. You may have heard
         makes your doctor or healthcare provider for                     call 1-800-QUIT NOW for name. Some of the
                                                                         realize that the condition has amore information.
         COPD and diagnosis. Now like emphysemayou
         testing called other names, that you know or
                                                                         things that put you at risk for COPD include:
         have COPD, your provider can suggest treatment
         chronic bronchitis.
         options and ways to help you manage COPD and                      Talk with
                                                                         Smoking your doctor or healthcare
         In people who have COPD, the airways—tubes
         improve your quality of life.
         that carry air in and out of your lungs—are partly
                                                                           provider about treatment options. and
                                                                         COPD most often occurs in people age 40 You can
         blocked,is copd? it hard to get air in and out.
                                                                           take steps to make breathing current or
                                                                         over with a history of smoking (eithereasier and
         what which makes                                                  live a longer although as many life.
                                                                         former smokers),and more activeas 1 out of 6
         COPD are the symptoms?
         what is a serious lung disease that over time                   people with COPD never smoked. Smoking is the
         makes people with COPDYou may also have heard
         Many it hard to breathe. avoid activities that they             most common cause of COPD—it accounts for as
                                                                           Avoid Exposure to Pollutants
         used to called by other names, like emphysema
         COPD enjoy because they become short of breath                  many as 9 out of 10 COPD-related deaths.
         or chronic bronchitis.                                            Try to stay away from other things that could
         more easily.
                                                                         Environmental Exposure and strong fumes.
                                                                           irritate your lungs, like dust
         In people who have COPD, the airways—tubes
         Symptoms of COPD include:                                         Stay indoors when the outside who have is poor.
                                                                         COPD can also occur in peopleair quality had long-
         that carry air in and out of your lungs—are
         n	Constant coughing, sometimes called “smoker’s                   You should also stay away from places your there
                                                                         term exposure to things that can irritatewherelungs,
         partially blocked, which makes it hard for the
           cough”                                                          might be chemicals, dust,
                                                                         like certaincigarette smoke. or fumes in
         air to get in and out. COPD develops slowly and
         n	Shortness of breath while doing activities you                the workplace. Heavy or long-term exposure to
         worsens over time, so be sure to call your doctor or              Visit Your Healthcare Provider on a Regular Basis
                                                                         secondhand smoke or other air pollutants may also
           used to be able to do
         healthcare provider to report any new symptoms                    See your to COPD.
                                                                         contributedoctor or healthcare provider regularly,
         n	Excess sputum production
         or if your current symptoms get worse.                            even if you are feeling fine. Be sure to bring a list
         n	Feeling like you can’t breathe                                Genetic Factorsyou are taking to each office visit.
                                                                           of all medicines
         n	Not being able to take a deep breath                          In some people, COPD is caused by a genetic
         n	Wheezing                                                        Follow Treatment Advice
                                                                         condition known as alpha-1 antitrypsin, or AAT,
                                                                         deficiency. While very few people know they have
                                                                           Be sure to take your medications and follow
                                                                           your provider’s advice on how to as many disease.
                                                                         AAT deficiency, it is estimated thattreat youras
                                                                         100,000 Americans have it. People with AAT
                                                                           If you have any questions—ASK!
                                                                         deficiency can get COPD even if they have never
                                                                         smoked or had long-term exposure to harmful pollutants.
How Does COPD
Affect Breathing?
The “airways” are the tubes that carry air in and
out of the lungs through the nose and mouth.
Healthy airways and air sacs in the lungs are
elastic—they try to bounce back to their original
shape after being stretched or filled with air,
just the way a new rubber band or balloon does.
This elastic quality helps retain the normal
structure of the lung and helps to move the air
quickly in and out.
In people with COPD, the air sacs no longer
bounce back to their original shape. The
airways can also become swollen or thicker
than normal, and mucus production might
increase. The floppy airways are partially
blocked, or obstructed, making it even harder                                             copd
to get air out of the lungs.

Take Precautions Against the Flu                       Seek Support From Other COPD Patients
Do your best to avoid crowds during flu season.        There are many COPD support groups offered
It is also a good idea to get a flu shot every year,   at local hospitals and there is a very active COPD
since the flu can cause serious problems for people    community online. Family members are also
with COPD. You should also ask your provider           a great resource for support as you learn to live
about the pneumonia vaccine.                           with and manage COPD.

                                                       taking action
                                                       Once you have been diagnosed with COPD,
                                                       there are many ways that you and your healthcare
                                                       provider can work together to manage the
                                                       symptoms of the disease and improve your quality
                                                       of life. They may suggest one or more of the
                                                       following options:
                                                       Medications (such as bronchodilators and
                                                       inhaled steroids)
                                                       Bronchodilators are medicines that usually come
                                                       in the form of an inhaler. They work to relax the
                                                       muscles around your airways, to help open them
and make it easier to breathe. Inhaled steroids help   Surgery
prevent the airways from getting inflamed. Each        Patients with very severe COPD may have a hard
patient is different—your doctor or healthcare         time breathing all the time. In some of these
provider may suggest other types of medications        cases, doctors may suggest lung surgery to improve
that might work better for you.                        breathing and help lessen some of the most
                                                       severe symptoms.
Pulmonary Rehabilitation
Your healthcare provider may recommend that you
participate in pulmonary rehabilitation, or “rehab.”
This is a program that helps you learn to exercise
and manage your disease with physical activity             Spirometry Can Help Determine
and counseling. It can help you stay active and            the Best Course of Treatment
carry out your day-to-day tasks.
                                                           Spirometry is a simple,
                                                           noninvasive breathing
Once you have been diagnosed with COPD,
                                                           test that measures the
there are many ways that you and your                      amount of air a person
doctor or healthcare provider can work                     can blow out of the lungs
together to manage the symptoms of the                     (volume) and how fast
disease and improve your quality of life.                  he or she can blow it out
                                                           (flow). The spirometry
Physical Activity Training                                 reading can help your
                                                           doctor assess how well
Your healthcare provider or a pulmonary therapist
                                                           your lungs are working and determine the
they recommend might teach you some activities
                                                           best course of treatment.
to help your arms and legs get stronger and/or
breathing exercises that strengthen the muscles            Spirometry is one of the best and most
needed for breathing.                                      common lung function tests. The test is done
                                                           with a spirometer, a machine that measures
Lifestyle Changes
                                                           how well your lungs function, records the
Lifestyle changes such                                     results, and displays them on a graph. You
as quitting smoking can                                    will be asked to take a deep breath, then
help you manage the                                        blow out as hard and as fast as you can using
effects of COPD.                                           a mouthpiece connected to the machine
Oxygen Treatment                                           with tubing. The spirometer then measures
If your COPD is severe,                                    the total amount of air exhaled, called the
your doctor might suggest oxygen therapy to                forced vital capacity or FVC, and how much
help with shortness of breath. You might need              you exhaled in the first second, called the
oxygen all of the time or just some of the time            forced expiratory volume in 1 second or FEV1.
your provider will work with you to learn which            Your doctor or healthcare provider will use
treatment will be most helpful.                            the results to assess how well your lungs are
                                                           working and whether or not you have COPD.
When To Get Emergency Help
Seek emergency help if your usual medications         Be prepared and have
aren’t working and:                                   information on hand that you or
                                                      others would need in a medical
n   You find that it is unusually hard to walk
                                                      emergency, such as a list of
    or talk (such as difficulty completing
                                                      medicines you are taking, the
    a sentence).
                                                      name of your doctor or healthcare
n   Your heart is beating very fast or irregularly.   provider and his/her contact information,
n   Your lips or fingernails are gray or blue.        directions to the hospital or your provider’s office,
n   Your breathing is fast and hard, even when you    and people to contact if you are unable to speak or
    are using your medication.                        drive yourself to the provider or hospital.

Managing Complications                                learn more breathe better
Symptoms of COPD can get worse all of a sudden.       If you think you might be at risk for COPD, get
When this happens, it is much harder to catch         a simple breathing test. Talk with your doctor or
your breath. You might also have chest tightness,     healthcare provider about treatment options. You can
more coughing or a change in your cough               take steps to make breathing easier and live a longer
(becomes more productive, more mucus is               and more active life.
expelled), and a fever.
                                                      For more information, visit
When symptoms get worse quickly, it could be
a sign of a lung infection. There could be other
causes for symptoms getting worse, such as heart      Or contact the National Heart, Lung, and Blood
disease related to severe lung damage. The best       Institute at
thing to do is call your healthcare provider right
away so he or she can find out what the cause of                                          ®

the problem is and take steps to treat it.

                                                                NIH Publication No. 07-5841
                                                                Originally printed September 2006
                                                                Reprinted September 2011

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