Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

It's the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, but many people have never even heard of it.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD is a lung disease that combines emphysema and chronic bronchitis, making it difficult to breathe.

Shortness of breath is often accompanied by chronic coughing and increased mucus.

Doctors make a diagnosis by using spirometry. "It consists of blowing into a machine and if you can't give the air as quick as you should for your age you are likely a diagnosis of COPD," says Dr. Bartolome Celli from the American Lung Association.

The American Lung Association says the majority of cases are caused by smoking cigarettes, so quitting helps.

A patient's condition can also be improved through therapy for the lungs and regular exercise.

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