COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) - Ongoing Concerns
gets worse over time.
Shortness of breath gets worse as COPD gets
- 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
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.
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
Other health problems from COPD may
Care at the end of life
Treatment for COPD is
getting better and better at helping people live longer. But COPD is a disease
that keeps getting worse, and it can be fatal.
It's important to
talk with your doctor about these issues:
- What is your idea of the "ideal death"? Do
you want to be kept alive at all costs? Do you want a calm, peaceful
- If you have sudden, life-threatening breathing problems, do
mechanical ventilation, which means being connected to
a machine that breathes for you?
- What other kinds of medical
treatment do you want, or not want, when you are near the end of
- Do you want an
advance directive, which is a legal document that
tells your doctor what treatment you want or don't want if you become unable to
- What about palliative care? Palliative (say "PAL-ee-uh-tiv") care
is a kind of care for people who have illnesses that don't go away and that often
get worse over time. It is different from treating your illness.
- Care at the End of Life
- Writing an Advance Directive
- Palliative Care