The doctor tells Pam she has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). She’s never really heard about COPD before. She discovers that it is from smoking and is associated with two conditions, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Emphysema is when damaged alveoli lose their flexibility, making it harder for them to expand and contract. This causes wheezing, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest. Chronic bronchitis is when the lining of the damaged airways swells, thickens and creates excess mucus. In an attempt to rid the lungs of mucus, coughing, shortness of breath or respiratory infections may occur. Pam is scared when the pulmonologist mentions to her that the damage to her lungs from COPD cannot be reversed and there is no cure for COPD.

The doctor tells Pam that if she follows her COPD management program, she may be able to lead a somewhat normal life. If Pam doesn’t follow the program she could be placed on long-term oxygen therapy. Or, she may have to have some of each lung removed. Pam will also need to pay close attention to her symptoms as they may overlap with symptoms of depression such as fatigue, sadness, and sleeplessness.


  1. Internet Research: Which of these statements is the correct definition of COPD, a lung disease?
    A. Causes spasms in the bronchi of the lungs
    B. Results in lung scarring
    C. Blocks airflow and makes breathing difficult
    D. Begins as a bacterial infection

  2. Internet Research: COPD affects which body system?
    A. Integumentary
    B. Respiratory
    C. Nervous
    D. Endocrine

  3. Internet Research: What behaviors does Pam need to change to improve her health?
    A. Find support to help handle the emotional challenges of managing a disease.
    B. Develop a meal plan to provide the nutrients to help her breathe easier.
    C. Learn how to reduce exposure to anything that could make her COPD worse.
    D. Follow a plan to get the right amount and type of exercise to improve her breathing.
    E. All the above

  4. Review the Video: After watching the video, match the statements below to one of the following areas:
    A. The flow of air
    B. Treatment
    C. Prevention

    ____ Can slow the progress of COPD
    ____ If you smoke, quit as soon as possible
    ____ Normally, the alveoli and capillaries are flexible