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COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) - Ongoing Concerns

COPD gradually gets worse over time.

Shortness of breath gets worse as COPD gets worse.

Recommended Related to COPD

COPD Exacerbation Treatments and Medications

There are a number of treatments that may ease the symptoms of a COPD exacerbation. It is very important to know all your options. You and your health care provider can develop a treatment plan that suits you best. Staying on top of your treatment plan is vital to your comfort and health.

Read the COPD Exacerbation Treatments and Medications article > >

  • If you are diagnosed early, before you have a lot of lung damage, you may have very mild symptoms, even when you are active.
  • If you are diagnosed later, you may have already lost much of your lung function.
    • If you are active, you may be short of breath during activities that didn't used to cause this problem.
    • If you are not very active, you may not notice how much shortness of breath you have until your COPD gets worse.
  • If you have had COPD for many years, you may be short of breath even when you are at rest. Even simple activities may cause very bad shortness of breath.

It's very important to stop smoking. If you keep smoking after being diagnosed with COPD, the disease will get worse faster, your symptoms will be worse, and you will have a greater risk of having other serious health problems.

The lung damage that causes symptoms of COPD doesn't heal and cannot be repaired. But if you have mild to moderate COPD and you stop smoking, you can slow the rate at which breathing becomes more difficult. You will never be able to breathe as well as you would have if you had never smoked, but you may be able to postpone or avoid more serious problems with breathing.

Complications

Other health problems from COPD may include:

  • More frequent lung infections, such as pneumonia.
  • An increased risk of thinning bones (osteoporosis), especially if you use oral corticosteroids.
  • Problems with weight. If chronic bronchitis is the main part of your COPD, you may need to lose weight. If emphysema is your main problem, you may need to gain weight and muscle mass.
  • Heart failure affecting the right side of the heart (cor pulmonale).
  • A collapsed lung (pneumothorax). COPD can damage the lung's structure and allow air to leak into the chest cavity.
  • Sleep problems because you are not getting enough oxygen into your lungs.
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