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What is COPD?

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What is COPD?

You may have heard of COPD but what is it and how is it treated? In the United States, COPD affects more than 15 million adults, and many more do not know they have it. More than half of those diagnosed are women. It is a major cause of disability, and it is the fourth leading cause of death in our country (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2022).

November is COPD awareness month, and we have some good news! COPD can often be prevented. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of COPD. Most people who have COPD smoke or used to smoke. However, up to 30% of people with COPD never smoked. A rare genetic condition called alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency can also cause the disease.

COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a progressive disease or rather, a group of diseases that cause less air flow in and out of the airways overtime, making it difficult to breathe.

In the U.S., most people with COPD have these two major conditions:

  1. Emphysema – when damage to the walls between the air sacs in the lungs make it harder to breath out

  2. Chronic bronchitis– a repeated or constant irritation and inflammation in the lining of your airways. Mucus forms in the airways making it hard to breathe.

Symptoms of COPD can include:

  • Persistent coughing

  • Trouble breathing

  • Shortness of breath

  • Mucus

  • Chest tightness

  • Wheezing or a whistling/squeaky sound when you breathe

Of course, just because you may be experiencing one or more of these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have COPD. Your provider can determine if you have COPD. Your provider can also recommend effective treatments such as medication, pulmonary rehabilitation and oxygen therapy depending on the severity of your illness.

Campbell County Medical Group (CCMG) Pulmonary & Sleep Medicine diagnoses and treats diseases of the lungs and respiratory system, and evaluates and treats sleep disorders for patients in Northeast Wyoming. For more information, or to make an appointment with Dr. Michael Nolledo, call 307-688-3615.


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) | CDC. (2021, March 29).

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2022, March 24). COPD - What Is COPD? | NHLBI, NIH.

  • Category: Campbell County Medical Group Pulmonary & Sleep Medicine