COPD Awareness Month

COPD Awareness Month

November is COPD Awareness Month, which means there is no better time to get involved and help share facts about this widespread respiratory disease. According to the American Lung Association, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) affects more than 16 million people in the United States, but it’s estimated that millions of Americans may have the disease without even knowing it.[1]

Woman wearing her SmartVestThis month, as well as all year long, our goal is to help promote public awareness about COPD to help others recognize its symptoms and get treatment early. In this article, we’ll share some lesser known facts about COPD, as well as ways you can get involved this month and help share information with loved ones.

Are you a SmartVest user? Share your story with us and we will donate $5 to the COPD Foundation. Or, like our Facebook page this month, and we will donate $1.

COPD umbrella

What You May Know About COPD

COPD is an umbrella term used to describe other progressive lung diseases that obstruct the airways and make breathing more difficult, including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory asthma, and bronchiectasis.[2]

Though smoking, or exposure to tobacco smoke, is a leading cause of COPD, there are other risk factors that can leave you more susceptible to this condition, including preexisting lung conditions (i.e., asthma, emphysema, or chronic bronchitis); genetic disorders, such as alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency; or long-term exposure to chemicals, burning fuels, and pollution.[3]

COPD symptoms can include:

  • Chronic Cough or WheezingMan living with COPD coughing into hand.
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Recurring Respiratory Infections
  • Fatigue
  • Mucus Build Up and Changes in Sputum Color
  • Tightness in Chest[4]

To date, there is no known cure for COPD. However, early detection is the best defense against this disease causing further damage to your lungs: “Even for more advanced stages of disease, effective therapy is available that can control symptoms, slow progression, reduce your risk of complications, exacerbations, and improve your ability to lead an active life.”[5]

What You Might Not Know About COPD

COPD can coexist with other chronic lung diseases. For instance, many patients living with COPD may also experience symptoms of bronchiectasis, yet are unaware of this comorbid condition.

The reason this overlap of symptoms often goes undetected is because there is only one way to accurately diagnose bronchiectasis, and that is through a high-resolution computerized tomography (HRCT) scan. When testing for COPD, your doctor may use one of the following methods:

  • Chest X-ray
  • CT Scan
  • Blood Test
  • Lung Function Test[6]

Though helpful in detecting COPD, these tests won’t be able to discern a prevalence of bronchiectasis. And what this could mean is you or a loved one is not receiving an effective form of therapy treatment to help relieve symptoms and prevent future damage to your lungs.

COPD and bronchiectasis share many similarities, which is another reason why bronchiectasis goes undetected. However, if you’re experiencing a repeated cycle of respiratory inflammation and infection, in addition to shortness of breath, mucus buildup, and chronic fatigue, it might be time to ask your doctor about getting tested for bronchiectasis.

Helpful COPD Resources

To help you learn how to talk to your doctor about COPD and bronchiectasis, watch our “Ask a Pulmonologist” series, featuring Dr. Frederic Seifer. Here, you can view and share videos on topics that range from “Could a Person Have Bronchiectasis and COPD,” to “How to Talk to Your Doctor about Bronchiectasis.” 

Also, be sure to view our other resources about COPD, including tips on how to stay safe during the upcoming cold and flu:

In addition to our website, you can also find incredible online resources from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute for videos, publications, and social media resources or the COPD Foundation for news, community groups, and other ideas on how to help spread COPD awareness.

Graphic Icon of Rx for SmartVest


Did you know? A new waiver expands HFCWO therapy coverage to Medicare patients.


What SmartVest Users Have to Say

Still of Georgia  Many people have experienced great results when incorporating the SmartVest System into their therapy regimen. See below the quality of life impact SmartVest has had on people living with COPD.

“I breathe better, walk better, sweep the floor, do dishes—the things you can’t do if you don’t move that mucus out of there.” -Georgia
Read her full story.

“SmartVest is awesome. I can breathe a lot easier and can do things I haven’t been able to for five years. I get around a lot better without having to stop and catch my breath. I use my SmartVest faithfully. When I feel worse, I use it with my nebulizer several times a day. I’d be dead without mine! Thank you, SmartVest!” -Janet 

“SmartVest has been great therapy for my COPD. I’ve been using it for about 7 months and my COPD episodes are fewer and less frequent. I guess you can say it’s working!!!” -Josephine

“Best there is! Changed my life totally. [I’m] no longer on oxygen.” -Richard

Wondering if SmartVest Could Work for You?

Schedule a time to chat with our Patient Care Advocate and Request a SmartVest Informational Packet to bring to your doctor.
Talk to Mike


[1] American Lung Association. “Learn about COPD.” Retrieved from,disease%20without%20even%20knowing%20it.

[2] COPD Foundation. “What Is COPD Fact Sheet.” Retrieved from

[3] Mayo Clinic. “COPD: Symptoms & Causes.” Retrieved from

[4] Mayo Clinic. “COPD: Symptoms & Causes.” Retrieved from

[5] Mayo Clinic. “COPD: Diagnosis & Treatment.” Retrieved from

[6] Mayo Clinic. “COPD: Diagnosis & Treatment.” Retrieved from

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