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15 Myths to Bust for World COPD Day!

While there are many people who really do care about raising awareness, there are those who still believe those myths and misconceptions about COPD! So for World COPD Day, we decided to debunk 15 of these myths in order to let people know “the real deal” about COPD and what it’s like for people who live with it!

MYTH 1: The only way to get COPD is from smoking.

While it’s true that smoking is the number-one risk factor, there are several other ways to get COPD! Other causes include indoor pollution, outdoor pollution, workplace irritants (such as chemicals, dust, fumes, vapors), and some people are born with alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT), which is a rare genetic condition. A person who has AAT can develop COPD without ever having been exposed to irritants – many times this can include people who have never smoked.

MYTH 2: COPD and mental health have nothing to do with each other.

Many people do not realize that a person’s mental health can be heavily impacted by COPD! Depression, anxiety, and even panic attacks can accompany COPD for some people – so if you’re having these kinds of experiences along with COPD, you’re not alone!

MYTH 3: It’s impossible to treat COPD.

Not true! COPD is not curable, but it IS manageable and treatable! For more information on treating and managing COPD, check out this page.

MYTH 4: Only elderly people get COPD.

Wrong! There are many people of varied ages living with COPD – unfortunately, it’s more common around the world than people may think, and it does not discriminate against people of any age.

MYTH 5: You can’t live a happy, fulfilling life with COPD.

That’s not true! As this article shows, there are ways to live a fulfilling life with COPD.

MYTH 6: COPD and asthma are the same.

Nope. COPD and asthma are different conditions. Here is some basic information about COPD, and here is some information on asthma, from our sister site,

MYTH 7: Not many people have COPD.

This is not true either. As seen on our Statistics page, more than 65 million people around the world have moderate or severe COPD.

MYTH 8: People with COPD can’t exercise.

While it can absolutely be challenging to exercise with COPD, exercise is actually key to slowing the progression of the condition. It’s an important part of COPD management. Here are some ideas from the community on staying active with COPD.

MYTH 9: How you eat has no impact on your COPD.

Not true! Eating can have an impact on how you feel and how you’re doing with COPD. Nutrition is very important. One way that eating and COPD interact is, for example, that people in the community report feeling bloated after eating with their COPD. There are things someone can do to eat better and feel better with COPD.

MYTH 10: Once you have a COPD diagnosis, your life is over.

SO false! We know people (in this very community!) who are “longtime COPDers” – meaning that they are living long, full, happy lives. Our writers include some wonderful examples of people who do this!

MYTH 11: You can tell how healthy someone is by looking at them.

Wrong again! One of the frustrating aspects of this condition is that if you’re not wearing oxygen or using some other kind of device, COPD can be invisible! It’s important for people to know that even though someone may look fine – or may have even felt fine yesterday – that doesn’t mean they’re still doing okay now.

MYTH 12: If someone tries hard enough, they can overcome anything.

It’s important to recognize COPD as what it is: a chronic condition that needs to be treated. While it is manageable and treatable, it’s important for others to take it seriously when told that someone they know or love has COPD.

MYTH 13: If a person with COPD doesn’t want to do something, they’re just being lazy.

This is not true at all! Many people with COPD are affected by fatigue, which is a very real symptom of COPD. It’s not just because a person doesn’t want to do something – it could be that they really want to, but are having a really hard time! It’s so important for others to recognize and believe that.

MYTH 14: The weather has no impact on COPD.

False! The weather – be it hot, rainy and humid, or very, very cold – can affect COPD in a huge way! Even checking the air quality is also very important when dealing with COPD.

MYTH 15: It’s your fault if you have COPD.

It is NOT your fault that you have COPD! Many people smoke, but not everyone who smokes gets COPD – and NO ONE deserves it! And, as we’ve learned, there are several other ways to get COPD. It’s so important to be kind yourself and treat yourself the very best you can.

There you have it! 15 myths to bust for World COPD Day! Feel free to share it with people who you think can benefit from knowing the myths from the facts.