COPD

Icon for COPD

COPD is not one, but two conditions: emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Early intervention, medications and smaller portable oxygen systems can help relieve COPD symptoms.

First, what is emphysema? It’s a disease in which the air sacs of the lungs become damaged. Normally, as air travels from the mouth through the airways, it flows into air sacs called alveoli. These sacs stretch and fill up like tiny balloons. Oxygen passes through the alveoli walls into the bloodstream. Carbon dioxide from the blood passes out through the alveoli to be removed via exhalation. In emphysema, the air sacs lose their stretchiness and their inner walls are destroyed. This damage makes it harder for the lungs to absorb oxygen.

In chronic bronchitis, the lining of the airways becomes inflamed and thickens. Sticky mucus forms, which blocks the airways and interferes with normal breathing.

Typical COPD signs and symptoms are a cough that produces a lot of phlegm, shortness of breath, chest pain and tightness, and wheezing. Chronic bronchitis symptoms include many of these same signs—especially a cough and shortness of breath.

Because most COPD cases are caused by exposure to tobacco smoke, the first step in treating the condition is to stop smoking. Medicines can relieve the cough, shortness of breath, and other COPD symptoms. Bronchodilators relax the muscles of the airways, opening them up to make it easier to breathe. Steroid medicines bring down inflammation in the airways. These medicines are typically breathed in through a device called an inhaler.

People with very low oxygen levels in their blood may need to breathe oxygen through a mask or a cannula in the nose. Some people use oxygen only during exertion, such as when exercising. Others need it throughout the day. One way for people with COPD to improve their quality of life is by taking part in a program called pulmonary rehabilitation. In this program, a team of nurses, physical therapists, and other specialists offer exercise and diet tips, along with other strategies to help manage the disease.

See full description

Woman suffering in bed with CPOD using a spirometer

COPD Rehabilitation: Dealing with a Serious Lung Disorder

· · COPD
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) rehabilitation is a series of education and structured exercises that allow people to make the most of the remaining capacity of their lungs. People with COPD who engage in a rehabilitation program have less shortness of breath, an increased ability to exercise, better quality of … Read More
copd oxygen therapy tank

COPD Oxygen Therapy

· · COPD
People with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may have very low levels of oxygen in their blood. This is called hypoxemia, and it may cause increased difficulty breathing and further impair your ability to exercise, requiring COPD oxygen therapy. Low COPD oxygen levels may also cause fatigue, memory loss, … Read More
Man smoking

How to Prevent Smoking Diseases—and Add Years to Your Life

· · COPD
The number of Americans who smoke has fallen to 14.9 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—a big drop from 1997, when 25 percent of Americans smoked. Sadly, however, smoking still kills about half a million Americans annually, and it isn’t just the obvious smoking diseases … Read More
COPD treatment

COPD Treatment Regimens

· · COPD
Even though COPD cannot be cured, it can be treated. COPD treatment is aimed at reducing symptoms, preventing the disease from getting worse, improving the ability to exercise, preventing and treating complications, and preventing and treating exacerbations. Almost every person with COPD will be prescribed a short-acting bronchodilator (either a … Read More
smoking

Smoking and COPD

· · COPD
The primary cause of COPD is smoking, but long-term exposure to air pollution, dust, or certain chemicals also may cause or contribute to it. Genetics and biological differences also may be involved. A diet that is rich in fiber (from whole grains, whole fruits, vegetables, beans, brown rice, and nuts), … Read More
asthma

10+ Asthma Triggers to Avoid

· · COPD
People with asthma may suffer an asthma attack if they are exposed to certain triggers, which tend to vary from person to person. The following are the most common culprits. Pollen and Mold Outdoor allergens include pollen and mold. Allergy season, when pollen counts are highest, varies depending on where … Read More
woman vaping

Is Vaping Bad for You? A Look at Vaping vs. Smoking

· · COPD
My husband has been on and off cigarettes for as long as I’ve known him. He recently turned to vaping to try to kick the habit. While the smell of strawberry candy and chai tea is certainly more appealing than that of cigarettes, I had some serious doubts about the … Read More
what is chronic bronchitis

What Is Chronic Bronchitis?

· · COPD
Chronic bronchitis is one contributing factor to COPD signs and symptoms, but it also has its own distinct place on the lung diseases list. In order to properly answer the question, "What is chronic bronchitis?" it’s useful to know some basic facts about our lungs. Inside the lungs, there is … Read More

Enter Your Login Credentials
This setting should only be used on your home or work computer.

×