Learn about the symptoms, tests and treatments for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) from one of the nation’s leading experts, Barry Make, MD.
COPD is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
Chronic means the condition is going to be there and it’s been there for a long time, it’s going to be there for a long time, the but the good news is that COPD is treatable in addition to being long standing.
Obstructive refers to the fact that the breathing test has a certain kind of abnormality with airflow limitation.
Pulmonary disease, it’s a problem of the lungs inside the chest.
Symptoms of COPD
Shortness of breath, cough and phlegm are the major symptoms of COPD that drives patients to come see their physician. Shortness of breath is sometimes first recognized as inability to do what you normally can do.
In addition, many patients have what’s called exacerbations. That means some acute respiratory event which is associated with more shortness of breath, more cough, and more phlegm. Those exacerbations are very important and need to be treated appropriately and rapidly.
How to Diagnose COPD
The most important and common diagnostic test for COPD is a breathing test.
The name of that breathing test is spirometry, but it’s pretty simple. It requires you to take a deep breath in and blow it out as hard and fast as you can. With that test we find out that the air passages are narrow and that’s the classic definition of COPD, along with symptoms.
In addition, there are some other tests that people sometimes have. They may go in and have a CT scan of their chest because they have some other respiratory complaint and one finds emphysema on their chest x-ray. Breathing tests and x-rays are the most common ways we diagnose COPD.
Treatment Options for COPD
The important thing that people should know about COPD is that it’s treatable.
Think about what symptoms you have as an individual. If you have shortness of breath, we have lots of treatments for that. One of the important treatments is actually a non medical treatment or at least a non-medication treatment and that’s exercise. If you exercise regularly, you’ll be able to do more before you get out of breath.
A regular exercise program is sometimes started as what’s called pulmonary rehabilitation. A program of exercise and education that allows people to do more, be more active through a regular exercise program that is targeted for them.
In addition, we also have treatments related to medications that one needs to breathe in. There are a lot different kinds and classes of medications that help people be less short of breath when they have COPD by using these medications on a regular basis.
Visit njhealth.org/copd to learn more about how our experts can develop your personal care plan for COPD.
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