COPD: Bronchitis or Emphysema
What is COPD?
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is a disease that limits how much air can get into your lungs. With COPD, air can get trapped in your lungs, which damages your lungs and makes them larger than normal. More than 24 million Americans have COPD, but less than half are diagnosed. The most common forms of COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
COPD is a very serious disease – it is the 4th leading cause of death in the U.S. The good news is that COPD is preventable and treatable. Like most diseases, however, the earlier COPD is diagnosed, the better your chances for leading a healthy life.
The right treatment can make you feel better. If you have COPD, it’s important to follow your doctor’s treatment plan so you can stay active and delay damage to your lungs.
What are the signs of COPD?
According to the American Lung Association, some of the most common signs of COPD are:
- Constant coughing, sometimes called “smoker’s cough”
- Shortness of breath while doing everyday activities
- Coughing up a lot of phlegm or mucus
- Feeling like you can’t breathe or take a deep breath
If you have more than one of these symptoms, please make an appointment with your Primary Doctor as soon as possible.
Who is at risk for COPD?
A few things can cause COPD, but 80-90% of all cases in the U.S. are caused by smoking. Other risk factors for COPD include:
- Long-term exposure to secondhand smoke
- Exposure to dust and chemicals at work
- Indoor and outdoor air pollution
- A family history of COPD
What should I do if I think I’m at risk for COPD?
- If you are a smoker, quit now!
- Call your Primary Doctor and make an appointment as soon as possible. Tell the person on the phone that you think you have symptoms of COPD, and be ready to list those symptoms.
- Your doctor will ask you questions and may perform a simple, quick test called spirometry.
- If COPD is the problem, your doctor will make a treatment plan for you. This plan may include certain medicines. You may also need to change your daily activities.
- Make sure you go to follow-up visits with your doctor(s), even if you are feeling fine.
What is spirometry?
Spirometry is a test that measures the amount of air you can inhale and exhale. The test also measures the speed of the air you can move through your lungs. Spirometry can diagnose lung problems such as COPD, track the disease, and help your doctor manage your medication.
Spirometry is a very simple, painless test that you can usually get at your doctor's office. Here’s how it works:
- A tube is connected to the spirometer.
- You place your mouth on the tube and take the deepest breath possible.
- You then blow out as hard and as fast as possible.
- You’ll repeat this several times to get the best results.
- The test will measure the flow and amount of air as you breathe in and out as deeply and forcefully as you can.
To learn more about COPD, please visit:
- American Lung Association, “COPD – Helping the Missing Millions”
- The National Institutes of Health’s campaign, “COPD Learn More Breathe Better”
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COPD Home Page
- COPD Brochure English / Español
- COPD Brochure English / 中文
You can quit smoking. We’re here to help.
Quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do for your lungs, heart – and your overall health. For tips on how to quit smoking, call the NY State Smoker’s Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487).
Or, for more information, visit: