A lung disease characterized by chronic obstruction of lung airflow that interferes with normal breathing and is not fully reversible.

Previously Known As

  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Emphysema


  • Tobacco smoke is the main cause of COPD
  • Other exposures: fumes from burning cooking oil, heating with poor ventilation


  • Up to 75% of people who have COPD smoke or used to smoke
  • Most people will begin to see symptoms of COPD at around 40 years of age

Risk Factors

  • Genetics (alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency)
  • History of asthma
  • Exposure to fumes from burning fuel
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke
  • Occupational exposure to dusts and chemicals


COPD typically has a clear cause and a clear path of prevention: the best way to prevent COPD is to never smoke — or to stop smoking now.

Those who have occupational exposure to dusts and chemicals should make sure they have the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) and know how to use it.


People with lung disease are at a higher risk for serious problems due to vaccine preventable diseases. The CDC recommends all adults receive:

  • Influenza – recommended every year, age 6 months and older
  • Tdap – (if an adult did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), and then a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years.

Additionally, the CDC recommends the following vaccines for adults suffering from lung disease (talk to your doctor about which vaccines are right for you):


Current smokers and people with COPD have an increased risk of severe complications and higher mortality with COVID-19 infection. The CDC agrees. Click here to learn how to keep safe.


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