According to NIH, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a disease that makes it difficult to breathe and worsens over time. There is no cure for COPD. It affects more than 12 million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health.
COPD includes both chronic obstructive bronchitis and emphysema, two disorders that obstruct breathing.
The main cause of COPD is long-term smoking. COPD can also be caused by being exposed to pollution or second-hand smoke.
There are things people can do to control the severity of complications, such as stop smoking, take any prescribed medications or use oxygen.
There are four stages of COPD: mild, moderate, severe and very severe.
According to Merck, people in the end stages of COPD have severe shortness of breath that impacts their quality of life and they may require a breathing tube.
People with COPD should get a flu and pneumonia vaccines, since either of these can worsen COPD.