About COPD

SYMBICORT 160/4.5 for maintenance treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)... READ MORE

If you have COPD, you are not alone

People having COPD Icon
People having COPD Icon

In 2014, MORE THAN 15 MILLION people were identified as having COPD

People Not Treated for COPD Icon
People Not Treated for COPD Icon

MILLIONS MORE suffer from COPD, but have not been diagnosed and are not being treated

Why does COPD make it so hard to breathe?

  • COPD is a progressive disease. Progressive means that it gets worse over time
  • When you have COPD, the airways of the lungs become inflamed, making them narrow
  • They can become clogged with mucus, which is produced more than normal in COPD
  • All of this can make it difficult to get air in and out of the lungs and can lead to breathing difficulties
Stethoscope Icon
Stethoscope Icon

Having an open conversation about COPD with your doctor is key to managing your disease

SYMBICORT Inhaler Icon
SYMBICORT Inhaler Icon

Learn about SYMBICORT, a treatment option for COPD

Understanding chronic bronchitis and emphysema

COPD develops over time, typically due to long-term exposure of the lungs to cigarette smoke or other environmental irritants. When you have COPD, you may have one or both of the conditions that make up the disease—chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

CHRONIC BRONCHITIS

In chronic bronchitis, damage to your airways causes the linings of the airways to become inflamed and thicken. Your airways may also make more mucus than normal. This can lead to persistent coughing as your body tries to get rid of the extra mucus.

EMPHYSEMA

In emphysema, the air sacs in your lungs that transfer oxygen from the air into your body are damaged. As a result, the air sacs don't work as they should, making it more difficult for your lungs to breathe efficiently, which reduces the amount of oxygen transferred into your body and can lead to feeling short of breath.

COPD Symptoms

The symptoms of COPD can appear years after the flow of air into and out of the lungs declines. If you experience most of the following symptoms on a regular basis, you may have COPD and should talk to your doctor:

Constant Coughing Icon
Constant Coughing Icon

CONSTANT COUGHING or a cough that produces a large amount of mucus—also called smoker's cough

Shortness of Breath Icon
Shortness of Breath Icon

SHORTNESS OF BREATH especially while doing activities

Excessive Mucus Icon
Excessive Mucus Icon

EXCESSIVE MUCUS production

Chest Tightness Icon
Chest Tightness Icon

CHEST TIGHTNESS—feeling of not being able to breathe easily or deeply

Wheezing Icon
Wheezing Icon

WHEEZING—a high-pitched whistling sound made while breathing

Symptoms of COPD can begin to show as early as age 40. Not everyone who has these symptoms has COPD, and not everyone who has COPD has these symptoms. But over time, the symptoms can get in the way of simple tasks. They may make everyday activities like cooking, climbing stairs or carrying a suitcase seem like a challenge.

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Exclamation Icon

USE THIS COPD SCREENER TO FIND OUT IF YOU ARE AT RISK FOR COPD

If you think you may have COPD, print out your results to take to your next doctor’s appointment.

Causes of COPD

COPD is often the result of long-term exposure to lung irritants. The following are known to play a role in the development of COPD:

Smoking Icon
Smoking Icon

SMOKING

(CIGARETTE, PIPE, CIGAR, AND OTHER TYPES OF TOBACCO SMOKE) COPD most often occurs in people who smoke or used to smoke

Secondhand Smoke Icon
Secondhand Smoke Icon

SECONDHAND SMOKE

Breathing in secondhand smoke can also contribute to COPD

Air Pollution Icon
Air Pollution Icon

AIR POLLUTION

Exposure to pollutants such as dust or chemical fumes in the environment or workplace

Genetic Factors Icon
Genetic Factors Icon

GENETIC FACTORS

Although it is rare, COPD can also be caused by a genetic disorder called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, which is passed down in families

CIGARETTE SMOKE IS THE IRRITANT RESPONSIBLE FOR COPD IN ABOUT 80%-90% OF PEOPLE DIAGNOSED.

COPD Diagnosis

Your doctor will use a combination of your medical history, a physical exam, and lung function tests to determine if you have COPD.

Medical History Icon
Medical History Icon

MEDICAL HISTORY

This includes your symptoms, any risk factors like smoking or exposure to lung irritants, and other information to help give your doctor clues about your condition.

Physical Exam Icon
Physical Exam Icon

PHYSICAL EXAM

Your doctor will physically examine you with a stethoscope to listen for abnormal breathing sounds like wheezing (a high-pitched whistling sound).

Lung Function Tests for COPD
Lung Function Tests for COPD

LUNG FUNCTION TESTS FOR COPD

Your doctor may recommend one or more tests to help determine if you have COPD. Spirometry is a lung function test that measures how much air you can breathe in and out. It also measures how fast you can blow out. It may detect COPD even before symptoms develop. You’ll start by taking a deep breath, and then blowing as hard as you can into a machine called a spirometer, which will record measurements like:

  • FEV1 (Forced Expiratory Volume in 1 second), a measure of how much air you can breathe out in 1 second
  • FVC (Forced Vital Capacity), the maximum amount of air you can breathe out in one breath
  • FEV1/FVC Ratio: FEV1 expressed as a percentage of FVC; people with COPD usually have an FEV1 that is less than 70% of the FVC, or an FEV1 /FVC less than 0.70
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Medical Test Icon

OTHER TESTS

Your doctor may order other tests, like a chest x-ray or CT scan, which can provide important information about your COPD or help rule out other conditions that may be causing your symptoms. He or she may also order an arterial blood gas test, which helps determine the oxygen level in your blood. These tests can help your doctor determine the severity of your COPD and guide further treatment.

COPD Grades

There are 4 grades of COPD, and each is progressively more severe.

This classification of the severity of reduced airflow in COPD by GOLD (Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease) is based on FEV1 after using a bronchodilator, in people with FEV1/FVC less than 0.70:

MILD COPD (GOLD 1)

FEV1 ≥80% predicted

MODERATE COPD (GOLD 2)

50% ≤ FEV1 <80% predicted

SEVERE COPD (GOLD 3)

30% ≤ FEV1 <50% predicted

VERY SEVERE COPD (GOLD 4)

FEV1 <30% predicted

YOUR AGE, YOUR GENDER, AND EVEN YOUR OCCUPATION ARE CONSIDERED WHEN YOUR DOCTOR LOOKS AT THE RESULTS OF YOUR SPIROMETRY TEST.

Managing COPD

COPD currently has no cure, but it is treatable. There are steps you can take to help manage your condition. If you are taking medication to treat your COPD, it is very important to take the medicine exactly as your doctor has prescribed.

In general, the goals of COPD treatment include:

  • Relieving your symptoms
  • Slowing the progression of your disease
  • Improving your ability to stay active
  • Preventing and treating complications
  • Improving your general overall health

Treatment options

There are many treatments currently available for COPD. Your doctor will decide what the best treatment option is for you based on the severity of your symptoms. Two categories of medicine used to treat COPD include:

ANTI-INFLAMMATORIES

These are medications that help reduce inflammation (swelling) in the walls of the airways of your lungs. They largely include inhaled corticosteroids (ICS), which may help control COPD symptoms by reducing inflammation.

BRONCHODILATORS

Bronchodilators help relax the muscles around the airways to open them up. Depending on the severity of your COPD, your doctor may prescribe short-acting bronchodilators (“rescue” treatment) like SABAs (short-acting beta2-adrenergic agonists) for quick relief of sudden symptoms; or long-acting bronchodilators (“maintenance” treatment) such as LABAs (long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonists) for chronic, long-term symptoms.

SYMBICORT contains 2 of these medicines—an ICS and a LABA—that work together to help improve lung function in COPD*

  • SYMBICORT is delivered through an inhaler and can help you breathe better starting within 5 minutes*
  • Remember, SYMBICORT will not replace a rescue inhaler for sudden symptoms
  • In addition, vaccines, antibiotics, lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, and a variety of non-medicinal COPD treatments are used to help manage COPD

48 HOURS AFTER QUITTING SMOKING, YOUR NERVE ENDINGS ADJUST AND YOUR SENSES OF TASTE AND SMELL BEGIN TO RETURN.*

*Results may vary

Having an open conversation about COPD with your doctor is key to managing your disease

Learn about SYMBICORT, a treatment option for COPD

SYMBICORT Inhaler Icon
SYMBICORT Inhaler Icon

HOW TO TAKE SYMBICORT

Useful tips for using the SYMBICORT inhaler

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Blue Planning Icon

A LITTLE PLANNING CAN GO A LONG WAY

A guide to everyday preparation and planning

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION