COPD is a group of progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible) asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis. COPD is characterized by increased difficulty breathing.
It's important to recognize COPD early so that it can be treated and managed. Individuals who experience the symptoms of COPD such as: shortness of breath doing everyday activities, chronic cough, wheezing, and frequent respiratory infections, should talk to their doctor. A simple test, called spirometry, can be used to measure pulmonary--or lung--function and detect COPD in anyone with breathing problems.
Treatment options include medication (such as inhalers), pulmonary rehabilitation, physical activity training, and oxygen treatment. Even with treatment, you may experience times when symptoms become worse for a period of time. This is called an acute exacerbation, and it may lead to lung failure if you don't receive treatment. COPD exacerbations can be caused by triggers. Triggers include air pollution, smoking and respiratory infections. Each person may be susceptible to different triggers. To prevent exacerbations, it is important to minimize exposure to these triggers.
For most people, COPD can be controlled by avoiding known triggers when possible, with medication and regular preventative healthcare.
For more information on COPD management from visit the CDC COPD website.