Personal experiences with COPD

What to do once you know

Barbara went into action once she learned she had COPD.


Hear Barbara's story

What do you think?

It's a fact

Millions of people have COPD but don't know it.
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Symptoms may develop slowly

COPD develops slowly, and COPD symptoms usually slowly get worse over time.

By the time many people are diagnosed with COPD, they may have lost some of their lung function. So it's really important that you talk to your doctor if you have any of the symptoms listed.

If you are diagnosed with COPD, there are some things you can do to make living with COPD easier.

Your COPD symptoms may periodically get worse than usual

If you have COPD, there may be times when your day-to-day COPD symptoms get worse than usual. These episodes can last for a few days or longer, and often require antibiotics, oral steroids, and in some cases, hospitalization. Doctors call them exacerbations.

While many COPD exacerbations are caused by lung infections, they can also be caused by air pollution or the cause may not be known.

Common day-to day COPD symptoms include:

  • Cough
  • Coughing up mucus or phlegm
  • Difficult or labored breathing; shortness of breath especially during physical activity
  • Wheezing and chest tightness

Many people with COPD periodically experience exacerbations, a worsening of their COPD symptoms lasting a few days or longer, which may include:

  • An increase in mucus production, cough, and shortness of breath
  • A change in the color of sputum
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
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