What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a progressive lung condition that results in obstruction of airflow in the breathing tubes or airways of the lungs. It causes narrowing of the bronchial tubes in the lungs (sometimes called bronchi or airways), making it difficult to breathe. COPD is an umbrella term for a group of lung conditions including emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic asthma.

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Don’t ignore the signs

Symptoms of lung disease, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), tend to creep up slowly and people often automatically adjust their daily activities to accommodate symptoms rather than getting help.

Contrary to what people think, breathlessness is not a normal part of ageing. Likewise, a persistent or changed cough shouldn’t be dismissed as the flu or a cold.

Common symptoms of COPD include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • A repetitive cough
  • Increased phlegm or mucus production
  • Feeling tired
  • More frequent chest infections
  • Taking longer to recover from a cold or chest infection.

Anyone can get COPD. Take two minutes to check your lung health.

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Anyone can get COPD

COPD doesn’t discriminate. It affects men, women, current smokers, ex-smokers and even never smokers. Read these stories about real people living with COPD, the symptoms they experienced and how they coped with their diagnosis.

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  • australia
    1 in 7 Australians over 40 has COPD and many don’t know it
    Toelle B, Xuan W, Bird T, Abramson M, Atkinson D, Burton D, James A, Jenkins C, Johns D, Maguire G, Musk A, Walters E, Wood-Baker R, Hunter M, Graham B, Southwell P, Vollmer W, Buist A, Marks G. Respiratory symptoms and illness in older Australians: The Burden of Obstructive Lung Disease (BOLD) study. Med J Aust 2013;198:144-148
  • home
    COPD is the second leading cause of avoidable hospital admissions
    National Health Performance Authority 2015, Health Communities: Potentially preventable hospitalisations in 2013-14.
  • lung
    COPD is the umbrella term for a range of lung disease including emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic asthma
  • long-arrow-left
    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have approximately 2.5 times the rate of COPD as other Australians.
    Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Health and Welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Canberra, AIHW, 2015.
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