Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of diseases causing airflow blockage and, therefore, breathing-related problems. Patients typically have symptoms of emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States. For more data and statistics on COPD death rates in the United States, click here

What causes Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)?

COPD may be caused by different factors. The primary cause is exposure to tobacco smoke. The smoke from a cigarette causes tissue destruction within the lungs of a person over time. Secondhand smoke, or environmental tobacco smoke, increases the risk of respiratory infections and induces asthma-like symptoms, and causes a reduction in pulmonary function.  Long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution in the home and workplace may be a factor in COPD, as well. 

What are the symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)?

Symptoms include frequent coughing or wheezing, shortness of breath, trouble taking a deep breath, and having excess phlegm, mucus, or sputum production. The cough is usually worse in the mornings and may produce colorless sputum. 

How is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) diagnosed?

Spirometry or Pulmonary Function Testing (PFT) is used to diagnose COPD. It measures a person’s lung function and detects COPD in whoever has trouble breathing. A chest x-ray or CT scan may also be helpful in showing whether a person has signs of emphysema or chronic bronchitis.

How to treat Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)?

Although there is no cure for COPD, it can be treated. Smoking cessation is the most important step in the management of COPD! Bronchodilators are used to manage COPD, as well. A combination of therapy of anticholinergics, such as Tiotropium, with B-2 agonists, such as Albuterol, may show a great response. Inhaled corticosteroids may be added if your doctor sees fit. Some people may need supplemental oxygen, as well, if their blood oxygen levels are low enough.

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