More than 12 million Americans have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. If you have COPD, you might experience constant coughing, excessive phlegm build up, and shortness of breath during normal activities.
Smoking is the most common cause of COPD. Air pollutants and respiratory problems also put you at risk.
Dr. Anne Wheaton is an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"The most important thing is not to smoke. But if you are a smoker, smoking cessation—quitting smoking—is very important. Also, you can reduce exposure to air pollutants such as second hand smoke. And people who are exposed to dust, chemicals, or fumes at work should always use the proper protective equipment."