The ABCs Of COPD

It’s National Pulmonary Rehabilitation Week! If you’re one of the more than 12 million American adults living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you know that it requires careful management. And if you don’t have COPD, you should do everything you can to prevent it.

COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. It refers to two lung diseases: chronic bronchitis and emphysema, both of which cause obstruction of airflow that restricts normal breathing.

By far, the most significant risk factor for COPD is smoking. Other risk factors include exposure to air pollution and second-hand smoke.

Key symptoms of COPD are coughing, shortness of breath and excess mucus. Unfortunately, because COPD develops gradually over time, many people ignore symptoms until their COPD has advanced. At this stage it is more difficult to treat.


Diagnosed with a simple breathing test, COPD causes irreversible lung damage but can be managed in a variety of ways. According to the American Lung Association, quitting smoking is the single most effective way to reduce the risk of developing COPD and slow its progression. Medications that help open the lungs’ air passages and avoidance of other known risk factors and irritants can also reduce the symptoms and severity of COPD.

At Gwinnett Medical Center we understand COPD and our Pulmonary Wellness Program can help. Learn more online or by calling 678-312-3692.

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