Debunking COPD Myths
Debunking COPD Myths
Information for Patients with COPD and their Caregivers
This information was sourced from leading COPD health and advocacy organizations. This is general information and should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult with your treating physician if you have specific questions about your COPD or general health.
Have you recently been diagnosed with COPD or emphysema and looking for more information? Below we look at some common misconceptions about COPD.
Myth: COPD is a rare condition
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a chronic, inflammatory lung disease that obstructs airflow from the lungs. It is NOT rare and is actually the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S.1
Myth: Only smokers get COPD
Smoking and second-hand smoke are the leading causes for COPD development. However, there are other factors like genetics, environmental factors like air pollution, and exposures that can lead to the development of the disease. 1
Myth: Only old people have COPD
You are most at risk when you are older, but it is not uncommon to begin developing COPD in your 40s. There are even rare cases of people developing it in their 20s and 30s. 1
Myth: You can’t exercise if you have COPD
COPD patients are encouraged to exercise. Exercise can help strengthen cardiovascular and respiratory muscles. These muscles can help ease shortness of breath, a common symptom of COPD. Always consult with your treating physician before starting new exercise routines. 2
Myth: There is no point in quitting smoking if you already have COPD
It is especially important to quit if you have COPD because it helps ease symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. 2
Myth: COPD only affects the lungs
COPD mainly affects the lungs, but it also impacts the heart. Your heart works harder to help your body breathe when you have COPD. People with COPD are also at a greater risk for heart attacks and heart disease. 2
Fact: There is no cure for COPD3
There is no cure for COPD at the moment — but it is treatable. COPD treatment cannot reverse the damage the disease has caused, but it can:
- Help alleviate pain
- Improve quality of life
- Reduce the severity of symptoms
- Slow the progression of the disease
With lifestyle modifications and treatment, people with COPD can improve their overall well-being and enjoy a better quality of life. Learn more about treatment options here.
Fact: Diagnosing the disease early helps3
Getting an early diagnosis is helpful. You can treat the disease sooner, which may slow the progression of the disease. See your doctor if you are experiencing any COPD symptoms.
Fact: The main symptom of COPD is shortness of breath3
Shortness of breath is often the first sign of COPD. Patients also experience coughing, wheezing, and the feeling of having a tight chest.
- “10 COPD Myths and Facts.” COPD News Today, 19 Jan. 2017, copdnewstoday.com/2017/01/19/10-copd-myths-facts/.
- Barczy, Amy. “Top 5 Myths About COPD.” MIBluesPerspectives, 6 May 2020, mibluesperspectives.com/2020/05/06/top-5-myths-about-copd/.
- Worth, Tammy. “10 Myths and Facts About COPD.” com, 2011, www.health.com/condition/copd/10-myths-and-facts-about-copd?slide=2ef90beb-1dc3-4e83-8356-944e8caa4f80#2ef90beb-1dc3-4e83-8356-944e8caa4f80.