Understanding COPD


What is COPD?

Licensed Dietitians LLC: COPD and nutrition
COPD Nutrition Therapy

As defined by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD is a progressive medical condition that makes it hard to breathe. It includes emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis.


Emphysema involves damage to the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs resulting in deficiency of oxygen in your body

Some of the signs and symptoms of Emphysema includes shortness of breath and cough.

Chronic Bronchitis:

Chronic bronchitis occurs when the lining of the airways become inflamed leading to the build-up of heavy mucus or phlegm

What Are the Risk Factors of COPD?

  • Cigarette Smoking is considered as the leading cause of COPD. According to the American Lung Association, about 80-90% of all COPD is caused by cigarette smoking.
  • Air Pollution and irritating fumes and dusts.
  • Inherited lack of a protective protein in the blood

Signs & Symptoms of COPD:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Persistent coughing
  • Respiratory infections
  • Chest tightness
  • Cyanosis
  • Fatigue

It is important to know that not every person will experience the same symptoms.

How Can I Prevent COPD?

There are steps that you can take to prevent the risk of having COPD.  Here are a few things that you can do:

  • Smoking cessation. Find a program such as the “Tobacco Free Florida”, which offers help by phone, online, or face-to-face counseling
  • Avoid second-hand smoking. Remember that there are several good Federal and State policies that protect your right to a safe and smoke-free environment in both at work and public places.
  • Protect yourself and your family against chemicals, dusts, and fumes.

What Are the Nutritional Risk Factors for COPD?

People with COPD are at greater risk for malnutrition due to their increasing needs for fluids, calories, vitamins, and minerals.  You might experience, unintentional weight loss, decreased appetite, and not enough sleep.  Online or local nutrition consulting services can help you identify your daily nutritional needs to help manage the disease.  Licensed dietitians are food experts who are qualified to help you determine daily nutrients needs.

Your goal in term of nutrition should include:

  • Maintain optimal nutrition status
  • Avoid weight loss
  • Maintain lean body mass

How Can I Manage or Treat COPD?

As each person is different, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about the different treatment options and the one that is best for you.

Written by: Eliezer Archange, RD, LDN