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Everything We Know About COVID-19, Precautions and Vaccines

MainPageCOVIDarticleIt’s been more than a year since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Though the emergence of several vaccines hold promise for helping us finally turning the corner in our battle against the virus, it still remains a threat — especially to those with underlying conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

People with COPD are at risk

No one is immune to COVID-19. However, people with certain underlying conditions are a high risk of becoming severely ill if infected. One study published in the Archives of Academic Emergency Medicine

found that COPD was one of the prevalent underlying conditions among patients who had been hospitalized for COVID-19. Further analysis, including this article published in Respiratory Medicine, has also shown that people with COPD who catch COVID-19 are more likely to be admitted into the intensive care unit and placed on a ventilator. The same analysis also found that COPD sufferers are more likely to die from COVID-19.

The best way for people with COPD to avoid COVID-19 is to continue to practice the recommended safety measures: stay 6 feet away from other people, avoid large groups and gatherings, wash your hands frequently, use sanitizer and wear a snug-fitting mask with two layers. If you decide to quarantine, make sure you have an ample amount of your prescribed medications and oxygen, as well as a friend or family member who can run errands for you in the event you need something from the store.

It is also important you stay in contact with your physician and let them know if you are experiencing any symptoms of a COVID-19 infection as identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), such as a cough, fever and/or chills, fatigue and a new loss of taste or smell.

Masks are safe for COPD sufferers

The best way to prevent exposure to COVID-19 is to stay home. But if you choose to go out, it is important to wear at least one mask. There is some hesitancy to do so among some people with lung diseases such as COPD, who express concern that wearing a mask will restrict their breathing. That is not the case.

“They may feel slightly uncomfortable, but that’s not a sign that you’re getting less oxygen,” Frank Coletta, M.D., Director of Pulmonary Medicine and Chief of Critical Care at New York’s Mount Sinai South Nassau, told WebMD.

Michael Campos, M.D., a pulmonologist at the Miami VA Medical Center and the University of Miami Hospital and Clinics, conducted a study with 15 healthy people and 15 military veterans with severe COPD whose lungs functioned at less than 50%. He had each participant wear masks for 30 minutes and then walk six minutes while still wearing them. Blood tests were then conducted on each participant, which showed there were no changes to their oxygen or carbon dioxide levels.

Dr. Campos also found that some of the discomfort people feel while wearing a mask stems from anxiety, claustrophobia or a neurological response to warmer air touching the face, which can cause a perceived difficulty in breathing.

Christopher Ewing, M.D., a lung specialist in Alberta, Canada, told Discover Magazine that breathing is regulated by the nervous system — but can be influenced by our mind.

“When we’re feeling discomfort, even subconsciously, it can change the way we breathe,” he said. “Most of us aren’t used to wearing face masks, and the sensation of having a mask on your face might make someone anxious or uncomfortable.”

You can also check with your doctor if you are nervous about wearing a mask or if you are unsure of which one is best to use.

The COVID vaccines

It is important that people with COPD be vaccinated as soon as possible because they run a high risk of getting severely sick if infected. All three COVID-19 vaccines currently being administered in the U.S. under emergency use authorization (EAU) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are safe for people with lung diseases.

According to an article published by Yale Medicine, despite their differences, all three vaccines may help us achieve herd immunity and a return to normalcy. Two of the vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, use a relatively new technology called messenger RNA (mRNA) that involves delivering “a tiny piece of genetic code from the SARS CoV-2 virus to host cells in the body, essentially giving those cells instructions, or blueprints, for making copies of spike proteins (the spikes you see sticking out of the coronavirus in pictures online and on TV). The spikes do the work of penetrating and infecting host cells. These proteins stimulate an immune response, producing antibodies and developing memory cells that will recognize and respond if the body is infected with the actual virus.”

In rare instances—11 cases in 18 million vaccinations— mRNA vaccines have appeared to trigger anaphylaxis, a severe reaction that is treatable with epinephrine. As such, the CDC requires vaccination sites to monitor everyone for 15 minutes after their COVID-19 shot; 30 minutes for those with a history of severe allergies or who are on blood thinners.

Pfizer-BioNTechis the first COVID-19 vaccine to receive EAU and is recommended for anyone 16 and older. It consists of two shots, 21 days apart, and has a 95% efficacy in preventing COVID-19 in those without prior infection. It has been found to protect against the variant that was first detected in Great Britain (B.1.1.7) but may be less effective against the variant first detected in South Africa (B.1.351). Common side effects include chills, headache, pain, tiredness, and/or redness and swelling at the injection site, all of which typically disappear after a day or two of rest, hydration, and medications like acetaminophen.

Moderna is thesecond vaccine to receive EAU. Recommended for anyone 18 and older, it consists of two shots, 28 days apart, and is 94.1% effective at preventing symptomatic infection in people with no evidence of previous COVID-19 infection. Its efficacy rate drops to 86.4% for people ages 65 and older. Though still being studied, early research suggests that Moderna’s vaccine may provide protection against both known variants. Common side effects include chills, headache, pain, tiredness, and/or redness and swelling at the injection site and typically resolve within a day or two.


Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the Johnson & Johnsonvaccine is a viral vector vaccine that is recommended for anyone 18 and older and requires just one shot. It has a 72% overall efficacy and is 86% effective against severe disease, and an FDA analysis showed that it may reduce the spread of the virus by vaccinated people. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine protects against B.1.1.7 and has a lower overall efficacy against B.1.351. Side effects are noticeably milder than with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the most common of which are fatigue, fever headache, injection site pain, or myalgia, which is pain in a muscle or group of muscles. All of which generally go away in day or two. The company also reports that no allergic reactions were suffered in clinical trials.


Like mRNA vaccines, viral vector vaccines instruct human cells to make the SARS CoV-2 spike protein but do so in a different manner. Scientists engineer a harmless adenovirus as a shell to carry genetic code—neither of which can make you sick—on the spike proteins to the cells. “Once the code is inside the cells, the cells produce a spike protein to train the body’s immune system, which creates antibodies and memory cells to protect against an actual SARS-CoV-2 infection,” according to the Yale Medicine article.

There are two additional vaccines—Oxford-AstraZeneca and Novavax—that are notyet available in the U.S.

Back to normal

When it comes to COVID-19, our body of knowledge is growing daily. Two things remain constant, however — the need to remain vigilant about wearing masks and social distancing until herd immunity is achieved, and the importance of speaking with your doctor about any concerns or uncertainty.

If we continue doing what we can to protect ourselves and others, a return to normalcy is within sight.

An improved quality of life is the NEF mission.

The NEF’s mission is to improve the quality of life of patients with emphysema and their caregivers by providing and supporting educational, advocacy and research initiatives to the medical community and the general public. The NEF is dedicated to working to reduce the suffering and the toll emphysema is taking on innumerable sufferers in this country and abroad.

Emphysema and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) are related lung conditions that are caused by many years of cigarette smoking (‘smoker’s lung’) and other factors.

4.9.13.rev.NEF.our.missionAn estimated 3.1 million Americans have been diagnosed with emphysema; 11.2 million U.S. adults were estimated to have COPD. The disease is estimated to kill more than 120,000 Americans each year. Smoking is the major cause, but with ever increasing air pollution and other environmental factors that negatively affect pulmonary patients, those numbers are on the rise.

In 1971, some concerned physicians and patients founded the National Emphysema Foundation (NEF). At that time, emphysema as a disease was not known to the public nor was there any national program to combat it. There was very little research or money allocated by the National Institutes of Health for the study of this disease in spite of the fact that there were over 15 million sufferers. There was no charitable foundation devoted exclusively to emphysema and COPD. It was the fourth leading cause of death, and now, it is the third.

Today the life and breath of more than thirty million Americans are threatened by emphysema. This disease progressively constricts the bronchial tubes and eventually destroys the air sacs. Yet this preventable killer disease is widely undiagnosed and untreated especially in its early stages when it is most responsive to therapy.

COPD and Emphysema afflict millions of adults and children today.

copd and emphysemaAn estimated 3.1 million Americans have been diagnosed with emphysema and 11.2 million U.S. adults have been estimated to have COPD. Emphysema and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) are related lung conditions that are caused by many years of cigarette smoking (‘smoker’s lung’) and other factors.

COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a progressive lung disease that negatively affects one’s ability to breathe. Most people who have COPD are living with both emphysema and chronic obstructive bronchitis, each of which affects the lungs in its own way.

In emphysema, damage to the walls between air sacs causes the sacs to lose their shape and often results in destruction of the walls themselves, thus creating fewer and larger air sacs instead of many tiny ones. As a result, the amount of gas exchanged in the lungs is reduced.

Chronic bronchitis, on the other hand, is characterized by irritation and inflammation to the lining of the airways, which causes the lining to thicken. In addition, thick mucus forms in the airways, making it difficult to breathe.

While tobacco use is the number one factor in the development and progression of COPD, exposure to air pollutants in the home and workplace, genetic factors, and respiratory infections can also play a role in the disease. Symptoms include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and an increased production of mucus.

There are a number of treatments that can help patients living with COPD, including inhalers, steroids and oxygen therapy. However, the most important step to living a better life is to stop smoking.


January 06, 2016
Adding 'Flowsheet' to EHRs Can Help With COPD Management
The outcome of a new study published in Respiratory Medicine indicated that “integrating electronic health records into the outpatient process for individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can help disease management for such patients.”

December 17, 2015
Does COPD Begin at Childhood?
To mark World COPD Day,an annual event organized by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) to improve awareness and care of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)...

September 28, 2015
Current Diagnostic Criteria for COPD Inadequate, Experts Say
A recent analysis published in the BMJ details findings that indicate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) management programs and guidelines consistently over-diagnose elderly patients and underdiagnose young ones.

September 21, 2015
Study Shows COPD Re-admissions Can Be Reduced
A new sleep center study shows re-hospitalization of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can be significantly reduced using a multi-faceted approach.

September 14, 2015
Were You a Passive Smoker as a Teen? You Could Be at Risk of COPD
According to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers from the department of public health at University of Copenhagen...

August 31, 2015
Living an Active Life with COPD
For those living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), exercise can be a daunting thought.

August 10, 2015
Aspirin a Day Keeps Emphysema Away, Early Study Alludes.
According to a recent observational study, regular aspirin use is associated with a slowing of the progression of subclinical emphysema.

July 20, 2015
Order Sets Help Decrease COPD Hospitalization
According to a recent study published in the Canadian Respiratory Journal, the use of order sets by physicians for the management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is able to reduce hospitalization time and medication use outcomes.

June 22, 2015
COPD Risk Is Higher in Poor and Rural Communities
According to a new study released by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, the chance of having chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is almost...

June 15, 2015
Research Shows E-Cigarette Vapor Could Lead to Emphysema
Central Michigan University (CMU)researchers have found that inhaling the vapor of electronic cigarettes could lead to emphysema...

May 25, 2015
Regenerative Medicine Breakthrough Pushes COPD Treatment Forward, Marks Win For Method
Scientists are moving beyond stem cells to research the ability of fully mature lung cells...

April 27, 2015
Female Smokers More Susceptible to Emphysema
Due to a gene mutation called telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT), researchers from Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have found that females may be more susceptible to emphysema than men.

April 13, 2015
Twitter Useful for Smoking Cessation Programs
We know social media helps to connect people from all walks of life, but recently, University of California, Irvine (UCI), and Stanford University...

March 30, 2015
Identifying Which Smartphone App Features Aid Smoking Cessation
Smoking has been associated with the deaths of nearly six million people worldwide each year. So it’s no wonder there are over 400 smartphone applications, or apps, available to help people quit smoking. But which ones really work? And why?

February 09, 2015
CDC Finds Nearly Half of Older Adults with Asthma, COPD Still Smoke
Although chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death in the United States, close to half of adults over 40 who have been diagnosed with asthma or COPD still continue to smoke

January 05, 2015
Researchers Find New COPD Therapy Device Makes Breathing Easier
Millions of people suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) now have renewed hope, thanks to a new device that is demonstrated to improve breathlessness.

December 29, 2014
Treating COPD in the Elderly
The treatment of seniors (age 66 and older) who have both asthma and disease (COPD) has become increasingly difficult, as their younger counterparts are thought to experience less lung inflammation when receiving the same treatment.

December 22, 2014
Diabetes More Prevalent in COPD Patients Without Emphysema
In a new study published in BMC Pulmonary Medicine, researchers aimed to determine the frequency of diabetes in those patients diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

December 08, 2014
Asthma vs. COPD
Often times the signs and symptoms of asthma are confused with the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by both the patient and physician; however the two are different and require different treatments.

December 02, 2014
"Lung Flute" Helps COPD Patients Breathe Easier
University of Buffalo (UB) researchers have created a device aimed at helping alleviate airflow restriction in patients diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and chronic bronchitis.

November 24, 2014
COPD: Is Stepping Down Therapy Safe?
The results of a recent trial, published in The New England Journal of Medicine,that studied the gradual withdrawal of inhaled glucocorticoids and exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)...

November 17, 2014
New Role for Medical Practitioners: COPD Patient Motivational Intervention
Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) often also suffer from psychosocial co-morbidity, the combination of multiple medical conditions at one time that affects the mental state.

November 03, 2014
Chronic Bronchitis, Pneumonia and Emphysema Associated with Lung Cancer Risk
In August, the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine released its findings that three common respiratory diseases--bronchitis, pneumonia and emphysema...

October 27, 2014
The ABCs of COPD
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has the job of acting as a catch-all term for bronchitis, emphysema and in some cases, chronic asthma, of which are all directly associated with airflow obstruction.

October 20, 2014
Coping Techniques Help COPD Patients Improve Mentally and Physically
Patients diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) could boost their quality of life and improve physical symptoms by using coaches to “manage stress, practice relaxation and participate in light exercise.”

October 13, 2014
Study Finds Half of COPD Patients Suffer from Breathlessness
A group of researchers from GlaxoSmithKline R&D, the research and development arm of the global healthcare company, recently conducted a study testing the frequency of and factors associated with dyspnoea...

October 06, 2014
Study Reveals 76 Percent Reduction in Risk of Death with NPPV Intervention
In an eye opening estimation, experts have predicted chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) will become the third leading cause of death worldwide by 2030.

September 16, 2014
New Study to Investigate Whether Ibuprofen Can Reverse the Effects of Emphysema
An estimated 12 million adults have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and another 3.1 million with emphysema, both responsible for the destruction of lung tissue that leaves those affected struggling to breathe.

September 08, 2014
Patient Education and Awareness are Key in Preventing Flare-Ups
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) can mean dealing with the sometimes debilitating symptoms that interrupt everyday life.

September 01, 2014
New Respiratory Disease Breakthrough
It is well known that a continuous cycle of inflammation can lead to continued decline in lung function, making it increasingly difficult for emphysema and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) sufferers to breathe or take part in routine activities.

August 25, 2014
Are COPD Patients More Likely to Suffer from Depression?
A recent study by University of Amsterdam researchers sought to investigate whether depression occurs more often in patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) than in those without.

August 18, 2014
Limiting the Impact of COPD
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is described as a progressive disease, meaning it develops slowly and the symptoms gradually worsen over time.

August 12, 2014
One Step Closer to a Breath Test for Lung Cancer
The results of a recent University of Colorado study presented at the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting 2014 show that a test of organic compounds in exhaled breath can not only distinguish patients with lung cancer from patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but can also define the stage of any cancer present.

August 04, 2014
Tiny Coils Help COPD Patients to Breathe Easier
The permanent lung damage caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may have a new foe in the form of a procedure that does not require surgery.

July 14, 2014
Anti-Platelet Therapy Tied to Fewer Deaths in COPD Flares
High platelet counts have been found to play a significant role in inflammation caused during chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations.

June 30, 2014
New Research Suggests COPD Treatment Should Include Surgery for Some
The treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is a major cause of disability and premature death for millions affected, now has renewed hope as a result of clinical trials performed by researchers at Imperial College London.

June 16, 2014
Improved Kitchen Ventilation Shown to Improve Lung Function, Reduce Risk of COPD
Improving kitchen ventilation and switching cooking fuels may reduce the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and improve lung function, according to...

May 26, 2014
COPD May Increase Risk of Mild Cognitive Impairment
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may increase of the risk of contracting Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), an intermediate stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more serious decline of dementia.

May 19, 2014
Depression May Worsen Symptoms of COPD
Depression and anxiety may worsen symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and result in exacerbations and hospitalizations.

January 10, 2014
Lung Diseases May Affect More than Lungs
Chronic lung conditions in adults, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and bronchiectasis, may lead to gastroesophageal reflux according to a recent study published in the August issue of Respirology, Proximal and distal gastro-oesophageal reflux in COPD and bronchiectasis.

December 12, 2013
Vitamin D Deficiency Prevalent in Chronic Lung Patients
According to a recent study published in Thorax, a leading respiratory medicine journal, vitamin D deficiency is a frequent occurrence in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients and has been found to correlate directly to the severity of the disease.

January 03, 2012
COPD: The Basics
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third-leading cause of death in the United States and one of the most common lung diseases in the world.

December 06, 2011
DRIVE4COPD Unveils COPD Monument to Travel the Country
DRIVE4COPD, a multiyear public health initiative that aims to help people identify symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and take action, recently unveiled 24M: The DRIVE4COPD Monument, which will travel the country after its unveiling in New York.

November 21,2011
Loss of Small Airways Before Emphysema May Explain COPD
The narrowing and disappearance of small airways before the onset of emphysematous destruction, which is marked by the onset and spread of lesions and holes in the lung, may explain the increased peripheral airway resistance reported in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

November 07, 2011
Reduced Lung Function Increases Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Individuals with reduced lung function, such as those suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), have a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

September 26, 2011
Emphysema Severity and Lung Thickness Tied to COPD Exacerbations
Percentage of lung affected by emphysema and bronchial wall thickness on quantitative computed tomography (CT) are associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations, independent of the severity of airflow obstruction.

September 19, 2011
Physician Groups Issue New Treatment Guidelines for COPD
New guidelines for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have been released, updating the previous guidelines that were set forth by the American College of Physicians (ACP) in 2007.

August 22, 2011
CT Scans Reveal Changes in Lungs Associated with COPD Flare-Ups
Researchers have identified two types of structural changes associated with frequent exacerbations in the lungs of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a recent study published in Radiology.

February 21, 2011
Recent Study Uncovers Exacerbation Frequency Related to COPD Severity
Frequency of exacerbations such as dyspnea, cough, and sputum production in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients may be related to the severity of the disease, according to recent study.

Get in the habit of living a heathly life.

nef_exerciseShortness of breath and weakness are two common problems of people with chronic lung diseases. As a result, many people avoid participating in physical activities that cause them shortness of breath. In turn, these people become weaker and their shortness of breath greater with even less activity.

A program of regular exercise can help break this vicious cycle.

Even in small amounts, exercise can help strengthen your muscles and make them more efficient—requiring less oxygen to perform the same activities. Further, by stretching muscles that are not regularly used, including the breathing muscles, everyday activities such as walking will become easier and lung function will improve.

While exercise may seem overwhelming at first, even walking at a very slow pace will benefit your overall quality of life. Exercise will improve your appetite, giving you the “fuel” and building blocks you need to repair and maintain your body’s lung function. Mild to moderate exercise has also been proven to improve mental function.

The benefits of light to moderate exercise will be apparent rather quickly after beginning a regular exercise routine. However, these positive effects can be lost just as quickly as they appeared. As such, once you begin the healthy habit of regular exercise, you should continue daily unless otherwise advised by your doctor or physician.


March 14, 2016
Emphysema Patients Can Improve Their Exercise Capacity With New Implant
If you or anyone you know are suffering from emphysema, you already know the toll it can take on your body and how difficult it can be to exercise, especially for long periods of time.

February 15, 2016
Chinese Exercises, Breathing Patterns Aid COPD Patients
For those living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), breathing is often cumbersome and labor-intensive.

May 05, 2014
2-Mile Walk May Reduce Hospitalizations for COPD Patients
For chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients, walking at least two miles daily may reduce the risk of hospitalizations from severe episodes.

April 15, 2013
In-Home Exercises May Benefit Homebound COPD Patients
A pilot-study of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients who meet the definition of homebound has found that just two months of aerobic conditioning and functional strength training can produce measurable improvements in quality of life.

February 27, 2012
Special Bike Helps Emphysema Patients Increase Mobility
An updated version of the world’s first bicycle may help some people with emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) get around more easily.

August 02, 2011
Walking Speed May Signal Decline in Health
A drop in walking speed may signal a decline in overall health for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according a recent study presented at the 2011 American Thoracic Society International Conference in Denver.

July 18, 2011
COPD Patients May Benefit From Wii Fit Exercises
People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may benefit from exercising with Nintendo’s Wii Fit video game, according to a recent study out of the University of Connecticut Health Center.

February 07, 2011
COPD Linked to Walking Problems
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may cause abnormalities in patients’ muscular systems that affect the way they walk, according to recent research published in the journal of Respiratory Medicine.

March 19, 2010
Cycling to Better Health
With the diagnosis of CPOD and associated breathing troubles, many patients often find that it is much more difficult to lead an active life.

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