Trouble breathing?

If trouble breathing is keeping you from doing what you used to, it could be COPD.

About 12 million Americans may be living with undiagnosed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). If you’re having trouble breathing, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor about how you’re feeling. It could be COPD.

COPD can cause breathing symptoms like shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and more. COPD can be mistaken for a sign of aging or asthma. But COPD is something different–a chronic, progressive condition that can get worse over time. The first step is getting the right diagnosis. Then you can get the right treatment so you can breathe easier.

You may be at risk for COPD if you’re over 40 and you have:

  • Trouble breathing
  • A history of smoking
  • Exposure to chemicals or irritants
  • A genetic predisposition to COPD

Get screened
for COPD.

KnowCOPD.com offers a short, 5-question screening tool that may help you identify if your breathing trouble is related to COPD.

Shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing can be COPD symptoms.

Assess your
symptoms now >

Simply sign up to instantly access a free COPD screener. It can help you find out if your symptoms could be related to COPD. You can print your results and use them to have an informed conversation with your doctor about breathing easier.

Tools to help you start the conversation.

You’ve taken an important step by choosing to educate yourself about COPD.

Download these free tools and use them to help talk with your doctor about COPD and breathing easier.

Trouble Breathing?

A screening tool to help you assess your risk and see if you should talk to your doctor about your symptoms.

Use our screening tool

Just Diagnosed?

A discussion guide to help you talk with your doctor about treatment options.

Download this guide

Living With COPD?

A doctor discussion guide to make sure you’re doing all you can do to breathe easier.

Download this guide

The sooner you talk about your breathing trouble with your doctor, the sooner you can start to manage it. There are many different lifestyle recommendations and treatments for COPD that your doctor may prescribe to help you breathe easier. The information and resources in this section will arm you with the facts you need to talk with your doctor.

What COPD is
(and isn't)

What is COPD?

COPD is a progressive lung disease that affects the airways in your lungs. COPD makes breathing more difficult and can significantly reduce your ability to do activities. Without treatment, your lungs will eventually only be able to do a fraction of what they used to. Thankfully, COPD symptoms can be treated. The key is treating COPD early to improve how well your lungs work. Talk with your doctor about the need for early treatment options.

COPD can include chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or both

With chronic bronchitis, your body’s immune system responds to long-term irritation by causing the airways in your lungs to narrow. This happens as inflammation causes the walls of the airways to thicken and become clogged with mucus. It also causes the muscles around your airways to tighten up, further limiting airflow in and out of your lungs and making it hard to breathe. Unlike the bronchitis you may experience with a common cold or other virus, chronic bronchitis can come and go over months or years.

There are also tiny air sacs (called alveoli) clustered like bunches of grapes in your lungs. When you have emphysema, inflammation in your airways causes the inner walls of these air sacs to weaken and eventually break down—creating one larger air space instead of many smaller ones. This reduces the surface area of the lungs and reduces the amount of oxygen that is able to reach your bloodstream. The damaged air sacs are also unable to squeeze out all of the air inside them when you exhale. This air becomes trapped in your lungs, leaving less room for fresh air. All of this can make you feel short of breath.

Shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing can be COPD symptoms.

Assess your
symptoms now >

Simply sign up to instantly access a free COPD screener. It can help you find out if your symptoms could be related to COPD. You can print your results and use them to have an informed conversation with your doctor about breathing easier.

Tools to help you start the conversation.

You’ve taken an important step by choosing to educate yourself about COPD.

Download these free tools and use them to help talk with your doctor about COPD and breathing easier.

Trouble Breathing?

A screening tool to help you assess your risk and see if you should talk to your doctor about your symptoms.

Use our screening tool

Just Diagnosed?

A discussion guide to help you talk with your doctor about treatment options.

Download this guide

Living With COPD?

A doctor discussion guide to make sure you’re doing all you can do to breathe easier.

Download this guide

COPD is usually progressive

While quitting smoking is the only thing that can slow the progression of COPD, following a prescribed treatment plan can help you manage your COPD symptoms.

What COPD is not

  • The same as asthma
  • A temporary breathing problem
copd and smoking

What causes COPD?

  • Smoking is the #1 cause of COPD, but you don’t have to be an active smoker or have a history of smoking to have COPD
  • Prolonged exposure to harsh chemicals or toxins can put you at risk for COPD
  • Genetics may make some people more likely to get COPD

COPD
symptoms.

What are the symptoms of COPD?

COPD includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, 2 conditions that cause different symptoms. COPD is usually a progressive disease, making it more difficult to breathe over time. While quitting smoking is the only thing that can slow the progression of COPD, there are treatment options available that can help you breathe easier.

Some symptoms of COPD may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Chronic cough with mucus
  • A feeling of tightness in the chest

See if you may be at risk.

Assess your breathing >

Simply sign up to instantly access a free COPD screener. It can help you find out if your symptoms could be related to COPD. You can print your results and use them to have an informed conversation with your doctor about breathing easier.

Tools to help you start the conversation.

You’ve taken an important step by choosing to educate yourself about COPD.

Download these free tools and use them to help talk with your doctor about COPD and breathing easier.

Trouble Breathing?

A screening tool to help you assess your risk and see if you should talk to your doctor about your symptoms.

Use our screening tool

Just Diagnosed?

A discussion guide to help you talk with your doctor about treatment options.

Download this guide

Living With COPD?

A doctor discussion guide to make sure you’re doing all you can do to breathe easier.

Download this guide

In the later stages of COPD, you may experience:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronic cough (with mucus) most of the time
  • Fatigue

COPD diagnosis

A test called spirometry determines COPD diagnosis.

When you visit your doctor to discuss your breathing symptoms, you may be asked to take a lung function test called spirometry. Very simply, spirometry is a test that measures how much air you can breathe out.

Your results from this test will be compared to what's normal for a person of your age, size (height and weight), and sex. This helps your doctor determine if you have COPD.

If your doctor doesn't perform this test, you may want to ask if you should have one. You can also ask if you should see a lung specialist (known as a pulmonologist).

If your doctor determines that you have COPD, he or she will likely advise you to:

Shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing can be COPD symptoms.

Assess your
symptoms now >

Simply sign up to instantly access a free COPD screener. It can help you find out if your symptoms could be related to COPD. You can print your results and use them to have an informed conversation with your doctor about breathing easier.

Tools to help you start the conversation.

You’ve taken an important step by choosing to educate yourself about COPD.

Download these free tools and use them to help talk with your doctor about COPD and breathing easier.

Trouble Breathing?

A screening tool to help you assess your risk and see if you should talk to your doctor about your symptoms.

Use our screening tool

Just Diagnosed?

A discussion guide to help you talk with your doctor about treatment options.

Download this guide

Living With COPD?

A doctor discussion guide to make sure you’re doing all you can do to breathe easier.

Download this guide