COPD is a progressive disease. This means that your symptoms and lung function are likely to get worse over time over time. You can take steps to improve your symptoms and overall health.
In MILD COPD, your only symptom may be the need to cough up mucus each morning. Some symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing or coughing up mucus may only occur during winter or after a cold. You may also feel a little more puffed and out of breath than you used to, if you exert yourself or walk quickly.
In MODERATE COPD, you are likely to notice symptoms almost every day. You may cough more and cough up mucus; feel breathless if you walk quickly; have trouble working or doing chores because you get out of breath; take several weeks to recover from a cold or chest infection.
In SEVERE COPD, you may be short of breath during normal daily activities such as taking a shower or getting the mail from the letterbox. Severe COPD can have a big impact on your life.
There is not yet a cure for COPD and you cannot reverse the damage done to your lungs and airways. However, there are steps you can take to slow down the worsening of the disease and improve your symptoms. You can also improve your quality of life and reduce the number of times you need to go to hospital.
Stopping smoking, if you smoke, is the most important thing you can do to slow down the progression of the disease. Other important steps to take are to
- Enrol in a lung exercise and education class, called pulmonary rehabilitation
- Make sure you get your annual flu vaccine
- Make sure you are vaccinated against pneumonia
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