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- Cigarette smoking
- Inhaling toxins or other irritants
- Genetic predisposition can make a person's lungs more susceptible to damage from smoke or pollutants (alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency)
- Long-term exposure to chemicals, dust, and other substances that have been inhaled
- Long-term cigar or marijuana smoking
- Exposure to secondhand smoke
- Family members with COPD
- History of frequent childhood lung infections
- Long term asthma
- Increased mucus production
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, especially after mild activity or exercise
- Recurring respiratory infections that cause symptoms to worsen
- Wheezing when breathing
- Breathing tests to check lung function
Blood tests including
- Complete blood count
- Arterial blood gas tests
- Opening the airways
- Relaxing the breathing passages
- Decreasing inflammation
Breathing and Coughing Techniques
- Pursed lip breathing
- Controlled coughing technique
- Pace your activities.
- Learn relaxation techniques and other methods to manage stress.
- Seek emotional support from professionals, family, and friends. Anxiety can increase the rate of respiration, making breathing more strenuous.
- If you smoke, quit.
- Avoid exposure to second-hand smoke.
- Avoid exposure to air pollution or irritants.
- Wear protective gear if exposed to irritants or toxins at work.
American Lung Association http://www.lung.org
Canadian Lung Association http://www.lung.ca
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Chronic bronchitis. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/articles/280.html. Updated July 2010. Accessed March 29, 2013.
COPD. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated March 5, 2013. Accessed March 29, 2013.
Explore chronic bronchitis. National Heart Lung Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/brnchi. Updated May 1, 2009. Accessed March 29, 2013.
Explore COPD. National Heart Lung Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/copd. Updated June 8, 2012. Accessed March 29, 2013.
Breathing techniques. Canadian Lung Association website. Available at: http://www.lung.ca/diseases-maladies/copd-mpoc/breathing-respiration/index%5Fe.php. Updated September 24, 2012. Accessed March 29, 2013.
Halbert RJ, Natoli JL, et al. Global burden of COPD: systematic review and meta- analysis. Eur Respir J. 2006;28:523.
Lopez AD, Shibuya K, et al. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: current burden and future projections. Eur Respir J. 2006;27:397.
What you can do about a lung disease called COPD. Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease website. Available at: http://www.goldcopd.org/uploads/users/files/GOLD%5FPatient%5FRevJan10.pdf. Accessed March 29, 2013.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 06/2013
- Update Date: 06/24/2013