What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)?

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An incredibly common lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can make it hard to breathe. While smoking has been identified as a main cause of COPD, other risk factors are gases or fumes, being exposed to lots of secondhand smoke or pollution, and cooking fire smoke where there is little ventilation.

Specialists at University of Utah Health can help you determine if you have COPD from symptoms and develop a treatment plan just for you. If you have symptoms you are worried about, make an appointment with one of our doctors.

Types of COPD

There are two main types of COPD:


Symptoms of COPD can include:

  • Cough.
  • Mucus with the cough.
  • Respiratory infections.
  • Trouble catching your breath.
  • Wheezing.


Treatment for COPD involves treating the symptoms, because there is no cure. To help with your symptoms, you can do the following (as recommended by your doctor):

  • Quit smoking
  • Use an inhaler
  • Use anti-inflammatory drugs or steroids
  • Try to build up your strength with regular exercise, like walking
  • Receive oxygen therapy

Find a Pulmonary Specialist

Curtis Watkins, lung transplant patient

Hear From Our Patients

A heavy smoker for 40 years, Curtis finally managed to quit in 2001 at age 58 thanks to his wife’s, Linda's, encouragement, his own determination, and a generous supply of nicotine gum and patches. “But it caught up with me,” said Curtis, who had developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that led to end-stage lung disease.

Curtis found help at University of Utah Health's Lung Transplant Program.

Read Curtis's Story