Shortness of breath can be a symptom of COPD.
Get all the facts.
What is COPD?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the name for a group of lung diseases where people have difficulty breathing because their airways have been narrowed. It includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
It is estimated that 1.6 million Canadians live with it – yet it is believed that almost as many have COPD and don’t know it.
If you’re living with COPD, we’re here to help! We provide people living with COPD programs and resources to keep them out of hospital, so they can live their lives to the fullest.
Causes of COPD
- Cigarette smoking is the most common risk factor, causing 80-90% of COPD cases
- Other types of tobacco (pipe, cigar, water pipe), second-hand smoke, and cannabis are also risk factors
- Workplace exposure to dusts, chemical agents and fumes account for approximately 10-15% of all COPD
- Examples of occupations with an increased risk include farmers, welders, painters, railroad workers, miners, carpenters, metal workers, construction workers, and cement factory workers
- Air pollution is linked to a decrease in lung function
- Severe lung infections during childhood
- Genetics/family history
- e.g., Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency is a rare genetic disorder that increases the chance of developing emphysema
- If one sibling has COPD, another sibling who smokes has a higher risk of developing COPD
- Asthma/bronchial hyperreactivity:
- Asthma may be a risk factor for the development of COPD
- Bronchial hyperreactivity (overly sensitive airways) can exist without a diagnosis of asthma and has been shown to increase the risk of COPD
- Lower socioeconomic status is a risk factor for COPD
- Cooking and heating with biomass (e.g., wood, coal, crop waste) in homes with inadequate ventilation (this is more of a risk in developing countries but is also a risk in some parts of Canada due to wood burning)
Smoking is a common risk factor for COPD. Learn from Dr. Samir Gupta why now is the perfect time to quit!
Symptoms of COPD
How COPD is Diagnosed
COPD Treatment Options
Although there is no cure for COPD, there are many ways to help you manage it. COPD severity ranges from mild to very severe. What is needed to manage COPD is different from one person to the next. Here are some of the strategies that can help you take control:
Support we provide for patients and caretakers
Fitness for Breath testimonials
Fitness for Breath is an exercise maintenance program and support group for people living with chronic lung conditions. Learn more about our participants!
The Lung Health Foundation is committed to supporting those affected by this progressive but treatable disease to live their best life. Here you can find the ‘need to know’ info on COPD, including what causes flare-ups, treatment and management.
Have questions about COPD?
Our Lung Health Line is a free, confidential service offered between 9:00 am – 4:00 pm Monday to Friday. To speak with a Certified Respiratory Educator (a healthcare professional with special training in COPD) call 1-888-344-LUNG (5864) or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.