Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive lung disease that causes the airways in the lungs to become inflamed and thicken, which causes the flow of air in and out of the lungs to decrease.1 When this happens, less oxygen gets into your body tissues, making it harder to get rid of the waste gas carbon dioxide. As the disease gets worse, shortness of breath makes it harder to remain active.1,2
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COPD is the third leading cause of death by disease in the United States. More than 16.4 million people have been diagnosed with COPD, but millions more may have the disease without even knowing it. COPD causes serious long-term disability and early death.
There’s no cure for COPD, but treatment can help ease symptoms, lower the chance of complications, and generally improve quality of life. Medications, supplemental oxygen therapy, and surgery are some forms of treatment. Untreated, COPD can lead to a faster progression of disease, heart problems, and worsening respiratory infections.1