What makes you breathless?

9) Your lungs and breathlessness

  • When you have COPD your airways may be narrowed and you will have to work harder to maintain the oxygen and carbon dioxide balance as you breathe in and out.
  • If you have emphysema the alveoli (air sacs) in the lung are damaged and oxygen and carbon dioxide may become trapped in the lungs. This will also make you breathless even when resting and worse when you are active. For more information please see: Smoking and emphysema section on this website.
  • When you have an infection or exacerbation, your body uses up more oxygen.
  • Breathlessness can be affected or made worse by something in your environment such as very cold weather or emotional stress.
  • Even though you may be breathless when active it is very important that you stay active to maintain or improve your lungs function.┬áThis needs to be done within your own limitations. If you are not sure about how much activity or exercise is the right level for you, ask your GP or healthcare professional. If you have not been to a pulmonary rehabilitation course this may be available in your area and healthcare professionals can make a referral for you.

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