Understanding COPD

COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  It is also sometimes called chronic bronchitis or emphysema.  COPD is a disease of the lungs that makes it hard to breathe. There is no cure for COPD but the right care can manage symptoms and make life more enjoyable.

What is COPD?

Damage to the lungs can trap air or block airways entirely. The lungs must then work harder to move air in and out, making breathing more difficult. COPD tends to get worse over time.

How do people get COPD?

COPD is often caused by damage to the lungs from smoking.

Diagnosing COPD

COPD is diagnosed by your doctor. He or she will give you a thorough exam and talk to you about your symptoms, health history, and lifestyle. Your doctor may also order some lab tests.

Treating COPD

Treatment for COPD often includes medication. Medicine may need to be taken each day or as needed to manage symptoms. Oxygen may also be needed to improve breathing. Quitting smoking is the most important thing you can do to treat COPD.

L.A. Cares About COPD®

L.A. Cares About COPD® is a program that helps people learn how to manage their COPD.
As part of the program, you can learn about:

  • What COPD is and what causes COPD
  • Who Gets COPD and what COPD feels like
  • How COPD is diagnosed and treated
  • Tips to quit smoking
  • Medications and how to work with your doctor
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation
  • Healthy lifestyle

Ways you can get this information:

  • Read the information on this page including the additional resources to the right.
  • Use the MyHIM wellness portal to watch videos about COPD, chat with a health coach, or take a self-paced COPD workshop.
  • If you are not sure what to do, contact the Nurse Advise Line. 

You can be part of this program if you are a member of L.A. Care Health Plan and have been told by your doctor that you have COPD.