Can COPD Be Reversed?

A man takes a lung function test.
A man takes a lung function test. Jan-Otto/Getty Images

Can COPD be reversed? That's one of the most common questions people have about the disease. While the unfortunate answer is that it cannot be reversed, there are things you can do to control symptoms.

Irreversible Damage

COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States, preceded only by that of heart disease and cancer. Most frequently caused by smoking and other airway irritants, the damage to the lungs caused by COPD is irreversible. But complying with COPD treatment and making important lifestyle changes can slow the progression of the disease, sometimes dramatically.

Helpful COPD Resources

As mentioned, COPD damage cannot be reversed. But these resources can help you get a handle on your symptoms.

Guidelines for COPD Treatment: COPD treatment is optimized for every stage of the disease, from GOLD I: Mild COPD to GOLD IV: Very Severe COPD. Does your treatment follow the current guidelines as set forth by the Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Disease?

Slowing the Progression of COPD: If you've been diagnosed with COPD, there are certain lifestyle changes that, when implemented, may slow the progressive lung damage characteristic of COPD. Which lifestyle changes are you ready to make?

6 Ways to Keep COPD From Worsening: When it comes to managing COPD and preventing it from getting worse, did you know that you play the most important role? Learn six ways to have a better quality of life and keep COPD from advancing to the next stage.

Preventing COPD Exacerbation: COPD exacerbation is the number one reason that COPD patients seek emergency treatment and are admitted to the hospital.

Not only do repeated episodes of COPD exacerbation worsen lung damage, they can also shorten your life. The key to managing COPD exacerbation is prevention.

When to Call the Doctor About Worsening Symptoms: When people with COPD aren't feeling well, they're often hesitant to call the doctor or seek emergency treatment.

This may be because they're unable to recognize which symptoms are related to a worsening of COPD. Although everyone is different and you should always follow your instincts, there are guidelines in place that will help you determine which symptoms warrant prompt medical attention.

23 Triggers That May Worsen COPD Symptoms: There are a number of triggers that can worsen your COPD symptoms and wreak havoc upon your quality of life. Sometimes, a reaction to these triggers can even lead to hospitalization. If you can identify what your specific triggers are, you can learn to avoid them and get a better handle on effective management of the disease.

Other Conditions That Can Make COPD Worse: How COPD affects your life depends upon many factors, but has much to do with how severe your symptoms are and the existence of other health conditions, also referred to as comorbidities. Research suggests that up to 25 percent of people age 65 and older have at least two comorbid conditions, with 17 percent of folks in the same age group reporting three.

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