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What is COPD?

What is COPD?
COPD stands for:

Chronic = long standing
Obstructive = blockage or narrowing
Pulmonary = affecting the lungs
Disease = illness

COPD is an umbrella term that includes: emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic asthma.

What causes COPD?
The main cause of COPD is smoking. There are other factors that may contribute to COPD such as working environment, fumes and pollution.

Symptoms of COPD
The following are typical symptoms of COPD:

  • Cough (dry or productive)
  • Sputum/phlegm
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheeze
  • Tight chest
  • Reduced exercise tolerance (i.e. ability to perform activities)

Diagnosis of COPD
COPD can be diagnosed with a breathing test called Spirometry, which measures your lung functions. This may have been done at your GP surgery or at hospital.

Your doctor may also request other tests such as a chest x-ray or CT chest to aid diagnosis.

Treatment of COPD
Your treatment may include the following:

  • Stop smoking advice
  • Medications (inhalers and/or tablets)
  • Pulmonary Rehabilitation
  • Education

More information on COPD from NHS Choices