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What is COPD?

(Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a chronic inflammatory lung disease. The disease affects the lining of the bronchial tubes responsible for carrying air to your lungs' air sacs. Due to the obstruction of airflow to the lungs, you have difficulty breathing and produce a lot of mucus.

Most people with COPD have a history of cigarette smoking, but it can also develop in response to secondhand smoke or other irritants.

COPD can make simple activities, such as walking, difficult. Even vacuuming or other household chores can leave you gasping for breath. It also increases your risk of developing other chronic diseases, like heart disease and lung cancer. +

What are the symptoms of COPD?

COPD is progressive, meaning it develops and worsens over time. You may not notice symptoms at first, but as the condition advances, you may experience:

  • Chest tightness

  • Shortness of breath, especially when you’re active

  • A chronic mucus-producing cough

  • Lack of energy

  • Wheezing

The presence of these symptoms might indicate you’ve already experienced significant lung damage.

COPD symptoms aren’t always severe. Many people have periods where the symptoms are more intense than others. These flare-ups can last a few days.

Cigarette smoking is a significant cause of COPD; 20-30% of chronic smokers develop the disease. Many people experience emphysema and chronic bronchitis before getting a COPD diagnosis.

How is COPD managed?

If you have COPD symptoms, your physician may order lab tests, chest X-rays, and pulmonary function tests to confirm a diagnosis. They may recommend you visit a respiratory specialist, depending on the severity of your disease.

COPD does not have a cure, but you can manage the symptoms. Those who smoke should stop immediately.

At Nightwater Health we can help you manage oral or inhaled prescription medications to relax the muscles of your airway, so breathing is easier.

We will manage supplemental oxygen and coordinate care with pulmonary rehabilitation programs. We can also provide nutritional advice and exercise training recommendations to restore your quality of life.

If you have COPD or symptoms of the condition, contact Nightwater Health by phone or schedule an appointment online today.

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