Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a
lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. COPD gets worse over time. You
can't undo the damage to your lungs. But you can take steps to breathe easier
and feel better.
If you have severe COPD, you may find that you
take quick, small, shallow breaths.
It's important to avoid
shortness of breath. Do all you can to make breathing easier. This includes
learning ways of breathing that can help the air flow in and out of your
Breath training can help you take deeper breaths and reduce
shortness of breath.
You must practice breath training regularly
to do it well.
One of the main symptoms of COPD is shortness of breath that gets
worse when you exercise.
As COPD gets worse, you may be short of
breath even when you do simple things like get dressed or fix a meal. It gets
harder to eat and exercise, and breathing takes much more energy. People often
lose weight and get weaker.
Breathing with quick, short breaths
makes it harder to get air into your lungs. Learning new ways to control your
breathing may help. You may feel better and be able to do more.
You can use these breathing methods to help you get over those times when
you feel more short of breath. But you must practice them regularly to do them
Use these methods when you are more short of breath than normal.
Practice them often so you can do them well.
Pursed-lip breathing helps you breathe more air out so that your next breath can be
deeper. It makes you less short of breath and lets you exercise more.
Breathe in through your nose and out through
your mouth while almost closing your lips.
Breathe in for about 4
seconds, and breathe out for 6 to 8 seconds.
Breathing with your diaphragm
Breathing with your diaphragm helps your lungs expand
so that they take in more air. Your diaphragm is the large muscle that
separates your lungs from your belly.
Lie on your back, or prop yourself up on
Put one hand on your belly and the other on your
chest. When you breathe in, push your belly out as far as possible. You should
feel the hand on your belly move out, while the hand on your chest does not
When you breathe out, you should feel the hand on your
belly move in. When you can do this type of breathing well while lying down,
learn to do it while sitting or standing. Many people with COPD find this
breathing method helpful.
Practice this breathing method for 20
minutes at a time, 2 or 3 times a day.
Now that you have read this
information, you'll be better prepared for those times when you feel short of
Talk with your doctor
If you have questions about this information, print it out and take it
with you when you visit your doctor. You may want to mark areas or make notes
in the margins where you have questions.
If you would like more information on COPD, the following
resources are available:
American Lung Association
1301 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20004
1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) to speak with a lung professional (202) 785-3355
The American Lung Association provides programs of
education, community service, and advocacy. Some of the topics available
include asthma, tobacco control, emphysema, infectious disease, asbestos, carbon monoxide, radon,
2937 SW 27th Avenue
Miami, FL 33133
The COPD Foundation develops and supports programs that
improve research, education, early diagnosis, and treatment of chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). They provide information to people with
COPD, caregivers, and health professionals.
National Jewish Health
1400 Jackson Street
Denver, CO 80206
1-800-423-8891 1-800-222-5864 (Lung Line)
National Jewish Health is a hospital devoted to
treatment, research, and education in chronic respiratory diseases. It publishes a newsletter and pamphlets; maintains the LUNG LINE, a free call-in
information service for consumers; and has a patient referral center (inpatient
and outpatient services).
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.