Sophia L. Thomas, DNP, FNP-BC, PPCNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of diseases — including emphysema, chronic bronchitis and asthma — that cause airflow blockage and breathing-related problems. When someone has COPD, less air flows through the airways, leading to breathing issues. Even though COPD can be caused by smoking, 15 million U.S. adults with COPD continue to smoke.
In the early stages of COPD, there may be mild symptoms, including:
- A nagging cough, also known as smoker’s cough.
- Shortness of breath, which may be exacerbated by physical activity.
- Wheezing, which is a whistling sound when you breathe.
- Tightness in the chest.
- More severe symptoms depending on the extent of the damage to the lungs.
How can COPD be prevented?
- If you currently smoke, reach out to your health care provider, such as a nurse practitioner (NP), to see how they can help you stop smoking.
- Stay away from secondhand smoke as much as possible. Smoke from burning tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars or pipes, as well as smoke exhaled by a person smoking, count as secondhand smoke.