Living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)


Shortness of breath is never normal. The following are signs that might indicate you are at risk for COPD:

  • Shortness of breath while performing routine activities;
  • Fatigue;
  • Chronic cough;
  • Reoccurring respiratory infections;
  • Cyanosis (lips and fingernails turning blue);
  • Producing phlegm, sputum, or mucus;
  • Wheezing

COPD is a progressive disease and is the third leading cause of death in the United States.  This disease prevents people from doing some of the activities of daily living such as walking and cooking.

COPD is caused by less air flowing through the airways and air sacs.  The inelasticity of air flow is caused by the destruction of air sacs, thickened and inflamed airways, and clogs from mucus.  The disease is usually the result of cigarette smoking, but also can be caused by long-term exposure to air pollution, chemical fumes, and dust.

Palliative care approaches for pulmonary rehabilitation include education, exercise training, nutrition advice, and counseling.  Supplemental oxygen may also be needed to help with breathing.  Symptoms are treated as they arise.


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