COPD and Smoking

What is COPD?
COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is damage to the lungs that makes it hard to breathe. Most people with COPD have both:

  • Chronic bronchitis – airways are swollen with a lot of mucus.
  • Emphysema – air sacs in the lungs are floppy and make it hard to catch your breath.

Signs of COPD
Early signs may include:

  • Lots of mucus, often in the morning.
  • Nagging cough (smoker’s cough).
  • Hard to catch your breath, mostly when
  • Wheezing or whistling when you breathe.
  • Chest tightness.
  • Lung issues, like often getting a cold or
    the flu.

When COPD is worse, you may have:

  • Blue or gray lips or fingernails.
  • Weight loss.
  • Fast heartbeat.
  • Trouble catching breath or talking.

Living with COPD
There is no cure for COPD, but these things can help you feel better:

  • Avoid dust, chemicals, and smoke
  • Talk with a doctor about:
    • COPD meds.
    • Exercise and diet.
  • Ask for help with daily tasks.
  • Stay away from secondhand smoke.
  • If you smoke, try to quit!

Why Quit Smoking
You can’t get rid of COPD, but quitting can:

  • Stop COPD from getting worse.
  • Help with shortness of breath,
    coughing, sinus issues, and feeling
  • Allow lungs to work better.

Help from the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line

Content from: UW-CTRI and the University of California-San Diego