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If you've just been diagnosed with COPD, our quick overview will help you find out what you can do to live well and manage your condition.

infographic with lungs magnified

What is COPD?

COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It’s a long-term condition. But you (and your doctor) can do things to help.

Chronic = it’s a long-term condition

Obstructive = it’s hard for you to breathe

Pulmonary = it affects your lungs

Disease = it’s a medical condition

More about COPD

COPD patient passport

Am I getting the right care?

Complete your COPD passport to check you’re getting the right care.

All you need to do:

1. Choose ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to statements about your care

2. At the end, you’ll get your personalised passport

3. Discuss this with your doctor or nurse

Complete the COPD passport

What can I do to help my COPD?

no smoking sign

If you smoke, stop smoking

If you stop smoking, you will slow the progress of your COPD. It’s easier to stop with help.

Quit smoking

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​Eat well and keep a healthy weight

Your diet can affect your COPD. Keep to a healthy weight for you to help your breathing. 

Eating well

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Keep well in the cold

It’s a good idea to prepare for cold temperatures, to make sure you stay well.

Stay well in winter

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Your medications

Your doctor may give you medicines in an inhaler to open your airways and to reduce swelling in them.

COPD medications

breathlessness positions

Control your breathing

If you feel breathless, get into a position that’s good for you. You can learn ways to help control your breathing.

Managing breathlessness

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Keep active

It’s good for you to get breathless when you’re active. Keeping active helps your breathing and gets you fitter so you can do more.

Keeping active

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Look after your mental health

You might feel down at times. You can get help with anxiety and depression.

Looking after your mental health

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Create a plan

Self-management of your COPD will help give you control of your condition.

Create your COPD plan

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Managing flare-ups

A flare-up – sometimes called an exacerbation – is when your symptoms become particularly severe.

The signs of a flare-up are:

  • your breathlessness gets worse
  • you cough more
  • you produce more sputum (phlegm)
  • a change in the colour and consistency of your sputum (phlegm)

Agree a plan with your doctor about what you will do in a flare-up. You may have medications to keep at home.

Read our flare-up checklist

Where to get help and support

Phone

Speak to our helpline

You can talk to them about anything

Call our helpline

Computer

Join our web community

Speak to everyday people with lung conditions

Join our web community

Facebook logo

Join our Facebook community

See what's happening on social media

Follow us on Facebook

UK map

Join a support group

We have support groups across the UK 

Find your nearest group

  • This information was reviewed in June 2021. The next review date is June 2024. 
  • If you’d like to give feedback or see our references get in touch.