By Dr. Brian McDonough

By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It is called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. People who have COPD as it is also known have dyspnea which is a shortness of breath and fatigue quite easily.

There are four stages of COPD from mild to severe and as the symptoms worsen the amount of coughing and production of phlegm or mucus increases. People with the more severe stages of COPD actually have difficulty performing numerous physical tasks. Even sleeping becomes a chore.

The leading cause of COPD is, you may have guessed, cigarette smoking. In fact, you can actually track the development and worsening of COPD based on when people kick the habit or what happens if they don’t.

There are medications that can help but for those who continue to smoke or don’t quit in time, the progression of the condition can’t be stopped.

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