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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a chronic progressive lung condition that produces symptoms such as shortness of breath, increased mucus, and coughing. COPD includes primarily two major respiratory diseases—chronic bronchitis and emphysema. With chronic bronchitis, the airways in the lungs are narrowed because of swelling and excessive mucus, which obstructs air going in and out of the lungs. With emphysema, the air sacs at the ends of the airways are damaged, which can limit the amount of oxygen available to the tissues of the body.

Smoking causes 90% of cases, but some COPD is caused by heredity, second-hand smoke, air pollution, or a history of repeated childhood lung infections

COPD can't be cured, but with the right treatment, people with COPD can lead active lives and live for many years. Quitting smoking can slow the progression of COPD.

COPD is under-diagnosed. If you are a smoker or ex-smoker
over age 40, ask yourself:

  • Do I get short of breath doing simple chores?
  • Do I have a regular cough that produces sputum?
  • Do I get frequent colds that seem to persist longer than other people?

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, you may have COPD – ask your doctor about having a simple breathing test called spirometry to confirm a diagnosis.

Visit our Resource Room to order COPD resources or learn more about COPD on our national website:

The Lung Association’s Breathworks program is a public health program created especially to provide free COPD information, resources, and support. Talk with a COPD educator by calling
1-866-717-COPD (2673) or visit the Breathworks website to learn more.

The Better Breathers Group is a support group where you can learn about tips and techniques to better manage your chronic lung disease. Talk with others who might have your same questions, share stories of support, and connect with others in your community who know what it feels like to be short of breath. To join a Better Breathers Support Group in your area, or to begin a local chapter, contact us by telephone at 1-800-565-LUNG (local: 506-455-8961 ext 107), or by e-mail

COPD Training and Educator Course (COPDTrec)

Developed by the Lung Associations of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, COPDTrec is a professional development program which will give health care professionals the skills needed to educate patients more effectively in the self-management of COPD. Participants learn about health education principles and the latest information about COPD care based on national guidelines produced by the Canadian Thoracic Society. An exam to become a Certified Respiratory Educator (asthma and COPD) is expected to be offered in Spring 2007.

Visit for more information or to register for COPDTrec

Reference Canadian Lung Association. (2006). COPD