Finding it hard to breathe? /photos/mart3ll/ 255289520 /photos/mart3ll/ 255289520

Do you have COPD?  Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.  Also called emphysema.  This is not a temporary illness.  COPD is a persistent condition that affects lung function, making breathing difficult and decreasing your ability to do the things that you want to do. 

What is COPD?  It is when inflammation and airway thickening occurs.  Destruction of the tissue where oxygen exchange occurs.  COPD is not reversible and progressively gets worse.  It is not curable, but COPD is manageable. 

What are the risk factors for COPD? 

  • Smoking is the leading risk factor. 
  • Second-hand smoke exposure. 
  • Occupational exposure (to dust or certain chemicals). 
  • Family history. 
  • History of childhood lung infections. 
  • Environmental  (poor access to health care or difficult living conditions).

Is COPD dangerous?  Yes.  COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States.  It is important to know the symptoms of COPD so that treatment can begin to help stabilize lung function.

What are the symptoms of COPD?

  1. Chronic cough–with or without phlegm
  2. Shortness of breath with everyday activities.
  3. Frequent respiratory infections.
  4. Blueness of the lips or fingernail beds
  5. Fatigue.
  6. Producing a lot of mucus
  7. Wheezing
  8. Unable to keep up with people your own age.

What is treatment? 

  • Contact your doctor as soon as possible. 
  • First, you will need a history and physical to be done by your physician. 
  • Then COPD is confirmed by spirometry.  Spirometry is a test in which you blow air into a mouthpiece that measure lung function — how much and how fast you can blow. 
  • Then, medication may be started to relax the muscles around the airways, making it easier to breathe.  Medication to clear mucus will also help.  anti-inflammatories may help reduce swelling and mucus production in the airways.  Pulmonary rehab helps rebuild strength. 
  • Quitting smoking is a key step to help this condition not worsen. 
  • Supplemental oxygen may be required if  COPD is severe to ensure that brain and bodily functions can perform better. 
  • And, get your vaccines.  Flu vaccine yearly is important and pneumonia vaccine will help these two infections not be deadly. 

About drlesliegreenberg

I have been practicing as a family physician for over 20 years--as both an educator of physicians and clinician. From infancy to the elderly, I perform obstetrics and general medicine. I love my career and am passionate about my field of knowledge and my patients. Follow me on Facebook at Leslie Md Greenberg Medical Disclaimer The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.
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