Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a condition commonly encountered by primary care practitioners. The disease should be detected in its early stages to prevent disease progression and to reduce the burden of symptoms. Early treatment also results in improved mortality and reduced morbidity. COPD should be differentiated from other similar conditions such as asthma, as the basis of treatment differs in these conditions, and misdiagnosis can lead to poorer patient outcomes. Non-pharmacological treatment such as smoking cessation and vaccinations are important in the management of COPD, while pharmacotherapy such as bronchodilators and antimuscarinics are the mainstay of therapy in COPD. Referral to a specialist is recommended when there is progression of the disease or uncertainty regarding the diagnosis.