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Live Better with COPD

COPD infographic

This information has been reviewed and approved by Patrick Hume, MD (June 2024).

Live Better with COPD

What is COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death in America, and 20% of people who get COPD have never smoked.


COPD is a group of diseases where airflow out of the lungs is limited. With COPD, you may have any or all of these diseases.

  • Emphysema
  • Bronchiolitis
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Asthma (if airflow obstruction can be reversed)



  • Shortness of breath with activity
  • Cough
  • Excessive volume of sputum
  • Sputum that looks infected


Avoid Infections

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. 
  • Don’t spread germs – cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Get a flu vaccine every fall.
  • Get the vaccines against pneumococcal bacteria.
  • Avoid crowds and people who are sick.


Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Get regular exercise such as walking, water aerobics or riding a stationary bike. 
  • Learn breathing techniques to move air into and out of your lungs.
  • Ask your doctor about pulmonary rehabilitation and physical therapy.
  • Give up smoking.
  • Use coughing and other techniques to get rid of mucus.
  • Use oxygen when it is prescribed.
  • Take medications as prescribed.
  • Use correct technique with inhaled medication.


Did You Know?

  • A person with COPD uses 750 calories per day just to breathe.  
  • A person without COPD uses 50 calories per day to breathe.
  • COPD is treatable.