COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) FAQs
Reviewed by Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Take the COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) Quiz First! Before reading this FAQ, challenge yourself and
Test your Knowledge!
Q:COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is the same as adult-onset asthma. True or False?
A:False. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is comprised primarily of three related conditions: 1) chronic bronchitis, 2) chronic asthma, and 3) emphysema. With each of these three conditions there is a chronic obstruction of air flow through the airways and out of the lungs. The obstruction generally is permanent and may progress over time.
Q:COPD is almost always caused by what?
A:Smoking. In the United States, tobacco use, especially smoking, is a key factor in the development and progression of COPD, but asthma, exposure to air pollutants in the home and workplace, genetic factors, and respiratory infections also play a role in the development of COPD. In less developed parts of the world, indoor air quality is thought to play a larger role in the development and progression of COPD than it does in the United States.
Q:Out of 100 smokers, how many will likely develop COPD?
A:15. Out of 100 smokers, about 15 of them will develop COPD. Cigarette smoking and tobacco use account for as much as 90% of the risk for the development of COPD.
Q:How long does it take smokers to experience symptoms of COPD?
A:People usually experience COPD symptoms after smoking for more than 20 years. Most people with COPD have smoked at least 10 to 20 cigarettes per day for 20 or more years before experiencing any symptoms. Thus, COPD is typically not diagnosed until the fifth decade of life (in people aged 40 to 49 years).
Q:Medically speaking, breathlessness or being short of breath is called what?
A:Medically speaking, breathlessness or shortness of breath is called dyspnea.
Q:Cyanosis is also a symptom of COPD. True or False?
A:True. In addition to shortness of breath, cyanosis is also a symptom of COPD. Cyanosis refers to a condition where the skin begins to look bluish in color due to insufficient oxygen in the blood. In addition to dyspnea (breathlessness) and cyanosis, other symptoms of COPD are wheezing, chronic cough, and frequent respiratory infections.
Q:How many American adults have COPD?
A:About 12 million American adults are estimated to have COPD, and about 120,000 die from it every year.
Q:Is it possible to have both asthma and COPD?
A:Yes. It is possible to have both COPD and asthma, and the diseases share several characteristics. Many people with COPD also suffer from asthma, but most people with asthma do not have COPD.
Q:People with COPD burn more calories. True or False?
A:True. People with COPD burn more calories.
Q:Medical treatments for COPD can include?
A:Pulmonary rehabilitation, medications and oxygen therapy. There is no cure for COPD, but there are effective treatments and lifestyle changes that can improve the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.
Q:People with COPD should get a flu vaccine every year. True or False?
A:True. Because the flu can cause serious problems, people with COPD should get flu shots every year. People with COPD are also at greater risk for pneumococcal disease, including pneumonia. People with COPD should talk to a health care professional about getting the pneumococcal "pneumonia" vaccine.
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