Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a disease in which the lung is damaged, making it very hard to breathe. Symptoms often worsen over time and, when severe, may prevent you from doing even basic activities like walking, cooking or taking care of yourself.
With a damaged lung, less air flows in and out of the airways because of one or more of the following:
- The airways and air sacs lose their shape and elastic quality.
- The walls between many of the air sacs are destroyed.
- The walls of the airways become thick and inflamed.
- The airways make more mucus than usual, which can clog them.
Causes and Prevention
COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Smoking is the most common cause of COPD. Most people with COPD are smokers or former smokers. Long-term exposure to other lung irritants — such as pollution, dust or chemicals — may also cause or contribute to COPD.
What is the best way to prevent COPD? Do not smoke. Or quit if you currently do smoke.
Living with COPD
If you have COPD, there are healthy choices you can make to help manage your health:
- Consider a smoking cessation program.
- Avoid exposure to other potential breathing irritants.
- Use an air filter in your home.
- Eat well and exercise regularly to strengthen your body and lungs.
For more information about COPD and other health conditions, members may log in to Blue Access for Members.