About COPD 

COPD (short for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is a lung disease caused by one or more health problems and includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema.  Over time, this disease makes it hard to breathe. It is a very serious disease and right now the third leading cause of death in the United States. The good news is that COPD is often preventable and treatable.

With chronic bronchitis the lining of the breathing tubes become swollen and produces a lot of mucus that gets coughed up. With emphysema the walls of the air sacs in the lung are broken down and the air spaces get larger and air gets trapped. Some people have both chronic bronchitis and emphysema, so we now prefer to call the disease COPD.

COPD causes serious long-term disability and early death. At this time there is no cure for COPD. More than 12 million people are known to have COPD and up to 24 million may have the disease due to some not even knowing it. The number of people dying from COPD is growing. Deaths due to COPD in women are higher than in men. COPD is often not found until the disease is very advanced because people do not know the early warning signs. Sometimes people think they are short of breath or less able to do the things they are used to doing because they are "just getting old". But shortness of breath is never normal. The good news is that COPD can be found early and there is much that can be done to treat and help manage the disease.

COPD in Arizona

  • According to the 2011 CDC study on COPD, 5% of Arizonans ages 45-64 and 11.8% of Arizonans ages 65+ are living with COPD
  • COPD accounted for 6% of all Arizona deaths in 2002
  • According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Morbidity and Mortality report, Arizona is among the states ranked highest for COPD deaths
  • Visit the CDC's COPD Among Adults in Arizona for more details

What are the Symptoms of COPD?

Signs and symptoms of COPD include:

  • Constant coughing, sometimes called "smoker's cough"
  • Shortness of breath while doing everyday activities
  • Producing a lot of sputum (also called phlegm or mucus)
  • Feeling like you can't breathe or take a deep breath
  • Wheezing

How is COPD Detected?

If you are at risk for COPD or have symptoms of COPD, you should be tested.  The basic test of how your lungs work is easy and is called Spirometry.  For this test, you blow air into a mouthpiece and tubing attached to a small machine. The machine measures the amount of air you blow out and how fast you can blow it.  Your doctor will also ask for a complete health history and do a health exam.  They may also want you to have a chest x-ray and/or other tests.

If you are diagnosed with COPD, you and your doctor will discuss a treatment plan just for you.

For more news, resources, and information on COPD please visit our website: 

Join us at a Better Breathers Club!

Better Breathers Clubs (BBCs) are a program of the American Lung Association.  Authorized BBCs offer an opportunity to learn ways to better cope with COPD while getting the support from others who share in your struggles. These support groups provide the tools needed to manage your condition and improve your quality of life. Support groups meet regularly and feature educational presentations on a wide range of relevant topics.