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Expert Answers: Progression of COPD

Getting a diagnosis of COPD can be stressful, and also can bring up tons of questions for both the patient and the caregivers, if any. Many people want to know what to expect, so we asked our experts John, Leon, and Lyn the following question:

How do I learn more about the progression of COPD and what I can expect for the future?

Response from John
The best way to learn about the progression of your disease is to see your doctor on a regular basis. If you are not satisfied with what your doctor is telling you, it may be a good idea to see a lung specialist, such as a pulmonologist. Your doctor is also the best bet to help you decide what to expect in the future.

Response from Leon
Learning about the disease is the best way to live productively and cope with COPD. Your physician and pulmonary rehabilitation program can provide insight into the disease, its progression and what you can expect in the future. As well, there is a wealth of information on the internet. This website,, and our Facebook page, provide much information on the disease. That is a good place to start at home.

Ongoing research yields new medications and innovative approaches to help alleviate the symptoms of COPD. When appropriate, your health care provider may be able to prescribe new treatment options for you.

Response from Lyn
Tell your pulmonologist you want frank and honest answers to your questions regarding your illness. Make it clear that want to be proactive in managing your illness. It’s important to get an accurate picture of your COPD. Websites such as this are designed to answer questions about the nature of COPD and the progression of it. If you continue researching COPD online, always be sure to pick reputable sources for information. Consider sites such as the American Lung Association or Mayo Clinic and avoid Wikipedia if you want sound medical advice.
Ask your doctor about pulmonary rehab programs available in your area as well as support groups. Both are very helpful in managing COPD. But most importantly, continue to remain as active as possible. You may need to adjust your activity levels as time goes by, but you will be the judge of that.

What about you? Do you have any advice for others with COPD on this topic? Please share your experience in the comments! 


  • Lyn Harper, RRT moderator
    2 years ago

    harleyman, it’s always best to see a Pulmonologist if you’ve been diagnosed with COPD. They are the lung experts and will be in the best position to treat you. They’ll coordinate with your primary care provider, unless you decide to use the Pulmonologist as your PCP – which is what many people do. They will order and interpret results from diagnostic tests such as pulmonary function studies, pulse oximetry readings, and blood gas results. Those tests will be part of determining the stage of COPD you’re in and the treatment plan.

    I wish you the best!

    Lyn (moderator)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi harleyman – I’d have to concur with Lynn. It’s a good suggestion to seek out a pulmonologist who is specially trained to treat diseases of the lung. While you’ve expressed concern about COPD and its stages, I thought you might find it helpful to review this article on that very subject:
    Please do check back and let us know how you’re doing.
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • ValerieMc
    2 years ago

    lizanne, Did you mean a glass of wine could worsen shortness of breath (elevate?)or alleviate, as in ease it? I am hoping it’s the later. 🙂

  • lizzanne
    2 years ago

    I had been feeling frustrated that more information is not circulated throughout the medical community!..I have a wonderful doctor but he asks me to share what I am doing to aid in slowing down the progression and managing my symptoms !!!Medications are a life line, but so are the foods we eat or should not. I found that even a glass of wine can elevate shortness of breath!!! who knew ? much on line research has netted vast insights as to what we can do to help ourselves along with the medical community. There are wonderful natural products which can help, but as the saying goes “God helps those who help themselves”…I keep busy researching as much as I can, and even that helps to keep my spirits up and I certainly feel more productive. I left the grieving behind and have decided to heal whatever I can going forward. Bless us all!

  • Jenn Patel
    2 years ago

    Thanks so much for sharing what helps you feel better, lizzanne! As you implied, different things work for different people, and we really appreciate your talking here about what you’ve found that’s been helpful for you! Thanks so much, Jenn ( Team)

  • harleyman
    2 years ago

    Is it best to see a lung specialist and find out the stage of COPD you are in to treat symptoms better?

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