COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)

I've just been diagnosed with COPD

Just found out you have COPD? Find out what you can do to live well and manage your condition.

COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It’s a long-term condition. But you can do things to help yourself.

What is COPD?

Chronic = it is long term and does not go away

Obstructive = it makes it harder for you to breathe out

Pulmonary = it affects your lungs

Disease = it is a problem to be taken seriously

Find out more about COPD

COPD Patient PassportWhat care is available for COPD?

You should get the right care for your COPD. Our COPD Patient Passport gives you personalised advice about your treatment. It can help you to talk about your care with your doctor.

Try our COPD Patient Passport

What can I do to help my COPD?

Stop smoking1. Stop smoking

If you smoke, the best way to help your COPD is to stop smoking. It’s easier to stop with help. Call Smokefree on 0300 123 1044.

Find out the facts about smoking

Positions to improve breathlessness when you have a lung condition2. Control your breathing

Learn ways to cope when you feel out of breath.

  • Choose a position that’s good for you.
  • Relax your shoulders, arms and hands.
  • Breathe in through your nose. Breathe out through your mouth.
  • Try to relax and feel calm each time you breathe out.

Ask your doctor, nurse or physiotherapist about ways you can breathe to help yourself.

Find out how to deal with breathlessness

3. Exercise

Walking for exerciseExercise helps you to feel better. You can get fitter and do more in your life.

  • Ask your doctor or nurse about doing pulmonary rehabilitation or PR. These are classes for people with COPD.
  • Do exercise you enjoy. Walking is a good start.
  • Plan it into your day.
  • Do as much as you can and slowly build up.

It’s recommended we all do 150 minutes each week.

Find out more about exercise with a lung condition

Eating healthy for lungs4. Eat well and keep a healthy weight

Eat different types of food.

  • Eat 5 lots of fruit and veg a day.
  • Drink plenty of water.

Ask your doctor or nurse about a good weight for you. If your weight is too low or too high it can affect your breathing.

Find out more about eating well with a lung condition

Making a COPD plan for a flare-upHow can I manage my COPD?

It’s important that you have a plan to manage your COPD and know what to do if you have a flare-up.

How to manage your COPD

Questions for your doctor or nurse

Get the most out of your time with your doctor or nurse.

Here’s a list of things you can ask:

  • Do I use my inhaler correctly?
  • Do I have the best drugs for my COPD?
  • Do I need a rescue pack for my flare-ups?
  • Is my flare-up plan ok?
  • How can I exercise where I live?
  • Can I get pulmonary rehabilitation (PR)?
  • What can I do if I feel ill?
  • What can I do if I feel down?
  • What can be done if my COPD gets worse?
  • Do I have the right contact numbers in an emergency?

Find out how to get the most out of your appointment

Download our COPD first steps PDF (596KB) Order your First Steps to COPD booklet >

Last medically reviewed: June 2015. Due for review: June 2018

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.