Breathing Better with COPD

November 25, 2013

HOUSTON, November 25, 2013 – COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and is the most common long-term lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe. COPD refers to both chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and the symptoms include persistent cough with mucus and shortness of breath.

According to the American Lung Association, COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States. “Many different things can contribute to COPD,” said George Kiss, MD and medical director at Harris County Emergency Corps. “Smoking, secondhand smoke, pollution/fumes, your genes and asthma can cause COPD. Smoking is the most common reason people get COPD.”

If you have COPD, you may have flare-ups when your symptoms quickly get worse and stay worse. It is important to know what to do if this happens. “Your primary care physician can prescribe medicine to help when a flare-up occurs,” said Dr. Kiss. “But if your attack is severe, call 9-1-1.”

Once your lungs have been damaged, they cannot be healed. The following suggestions are ways that you can make changes to slow the damage or stop COPD from getting worse:

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Avoid breathing in irritants.
  • Avoid colds, viruses, and infections.
  • Get the flu and pneumonia vaccines.
  • Ask your doctor about being tested for AAT deficiency, an inherited type of COPD.

Talk to your doctor about to get testing if you think that you might have COPD. Your physician can also help with quitting smoking. To learn more about how to quit smoking, go to, or call 1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669).

About Harris County Emergency Corps

Harris County Emergency Corps (HCEC) is a nonprofit, EMS provider, responding to 9-1-1 emergency medical calls to approximately 400,000 citizens of Northern Harris County. HCEC is a premier emergency medical services organization committed to preserving lives through clinical excellence, progressive medicine, and professional service. For more information, visit