What is COPD?
COPD is a serious lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. COPD is made of two components: emphysema and/or chronic bronchitis. In people who have COPD the airways are partially blocked which makes it hard for air to get in and out. The airways are tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs through the nose and mouth. Healthy airways in the lungs are elastic which helps retain the normal structure of the lung and move air quickly in and out. People who have COPD have air sacs that no longer bounce back to their original shape. The airways can also be swollen and mucus production might increase. This disease progresses slowly, worsens over the course of time, and is irreversible.
Symptoms of COPD:
- Shortness of breath (with or without exertion)
- Sputum Production
What causes COPD:
- Tobacco Smoke - The most common cause of COPD is cigarette smoking.
- Passive exposure or second hand smoke may also contribute to COPD.
- Occupational dusts and chemicals when exposures are intense or prolonged
- Indoor and Outdoor Pollution
How is COPD Diagnosed?
Spirometry is a simple test to measure the amount of air a person can breathe out and the amount of time taken to do so. The test is best performed when the patient is seated. The patient will seal their lips around a mouthpiece and after several normal breathes the patient will be prompted to force the air out of the chest as hard and fast as they can until their lungs are completely “empty.” The equipment will calculate values for these efforts. The spirometry test along with a doctor’s assessment can diagnose COPD.
Goals of COPD Treatment:
•Slow the progress of the disease
•Improve exercise tolerance (ability to stay active)
•Improve health status
•Prevent and treat complications and exacerbations