What is COPD?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary DiseaseCOPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease where it is difficult to empty air out of your lungs. COPD is a term that can include chronic bronchitis, emphysema or a combination of both. COPD is completely preventable.

How do I get COPD?

Many components contribute to COPD. The most common cause is cigarette smoke, but environmental factors and genetics can also play a role in COPD. Environmental factors that can affect the disease of COPD are: heavy exposure to certain dusts in the work place, chemicals and indoor or outdoor pollution. Genetics will determine which smokers will get COPD.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of CO{D are shortness of breath and/or a cough, with or without mucus, that does not go away. These symptoms should not be overlooked. If you have these symptoms call for an appointment with your Primary Care Physician. Your Doctor may then recommend a breathing test, called a pulmonary function test, to measure airway obstruction.

What is the treatment?

Treatment of COPD is available, but the most important thing is if you are a smoker, stop immediately. Medications may be prescribed to widen the airways, reduce swelling in the airways. You may also need drugs for infection. In cases where the oxygen level in the blood is low, supplemental oxygen will be prescribed. Pulmonary rehabilitation programs are offered with supervised exercise and additional information to help with breathing problems. More detailed information will be given after a diagnosis is made.

Will I get better?

COPD is for life, but symptoms can sometimes improve after a person stops smoking and takes medication regularly. Further improvement can be seen with pulmonary rehabilitation. Shortness of breath and fatigue may never go away completely but patients can learn to manage their condition and continue to lead a fulfilling life.

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