COPD is a
lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. COPD stands for chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease. It is caused by damage to the lungs over many years, usually
from smoking. COPD is a mix of two diseases: chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
that may put you at risk for COPD include breathing chemical fumes, dust, or
air pollution over a long period of time. Second-hand smoke is also bad.
In chronic bronchitis, the airways that carry air to the lungs (bronchial
tubes) get inflamed and make a lot of mucus. This can narrow or block the
airways, making it hard for you to breathe. In emphysema, the air sacs in your
lungs are damaged and lose their stretch. Less air gets in and out of your
lungs, which makes you feel short of breath.
COPD gets worse
over time. You cannot undo the damage to your lungs.
time, you may find that:
But there are things you can do to prevent more damage and
The main symptoms
At times, your symptoms may suddenly flare up and get much
worse. This is a called a COPD exacerbation (say "egg-ZASS-er-BAY-shun"). When
this happens, your usual symptoms quickly get worse and stay bad. This can be
dangerous. You may have to go to the hospital.
Don't smoke. That is the best
way to keep COPD from getting worse. If you already smoke, it is never too late
to stop. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking
programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
You can do
other things to keep COPD from getting worse:
COPD is treated with medicines and oxygen.
You also can take steps at home to stay healthy and keep your COPD from getting
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and
call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your
test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter V314 in the search box to learn more about "Learning About COPD."
Current as of:
May 23, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
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