Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD, is one of the most common lung diseases.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a common preventable and treatable disease, is characterized by persistent and progressive airflow limitation due to inflammation in the airways. While there is no cure for COPD, our physicians can help diagnose patients, prescribe medications to manage symptoms, and teach necessary lifestyle changes to avoid flare-ups.
There are two main forms of COPD:
- Chronic bronchitis, which involves a long-term cough with mucus
- Emphysema, which involves damage to the lungs over time
Most people with COPD have a combination of both conditions.
Risks and Prevention of COPD
Smoking is the main cause of COPD. The more a person smokes, the more likely that person will develop COPD.
In rare cases, nonsmokers can develop emphysema.
Other risk factors for COPD are:
- Exposure to certain gases or fumes in the workplace
- Exposure to heavy amounts of secondhand smoke and pollution
Symptoms of COPD
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Shortness of breath
As COPD progresses, you may be out of breath when doing simple everyday activities. As breathing becomes more difficult, many people lose weight and energy.
How COPD is Diagnosed
To accurately test for COPD, doctors will perform a lung function test to test lung capacity. The results can be checked right away.
Some patients may need to have an arterial blood gas test to measure the amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. X-rays and other imaging tests may be needed to rule out other conditions that could be causing symptoms.
Treatments for COPD
While there is no cure for COPD, our physicians can help diagnosis the disease, prescribe medications to manage symptoms, and teach necessary lifestyle changes to keep symptoms under control.
People diagnosed with COPD should quit smoking if they haven’t already to slow damage to the lungs. People with COPD can experience COPD exacerbation, where symptoms flare up, ranging from mild to life-threatening. The longer a person has had COPD, the more severe the exacerbation will be.
Our physicians may prescribe medicines, including:
- Inhalers (bronchodilators) to help open the airways
- Inhaled or oral steroids to reduce lung inflammation
- Anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling in the airways
- Antibiotics during symptom flare-ups
Lifestyle changes, such as air filters, regular exercise, and eating a balanced diet, can help people living with COPD maintain their strength and keep symptoms at bay to avoid an exacerbation.
Pulmonary rehabilitation can help teach patients different techniques for breathing. Nutritionists can help teach patients with COPD necessary diet changes to combat excessive weight loss and maintain energy levels.
- Learn more about Emphysema, a form of COPD
- Attend our Stop Smoking Today program
- Learn more about the Baltimore County Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Program