More than 15 million Americans have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), with over 150,000 dying of COPD annually. You should get tested for COPD if you experience shortness of breath and a persistent cough. At his practice in Bethesda, Maryland, Matthew Mintz, MD, FACP, diagnoses and treats COPD. Call the office or schedule an appointment online today.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) describes several diseases characterized by breathlessness due to an obstruction of the airways in the lungs, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Some people with COPD also have a chronic dry cough and experience tiredness.
COPD is always present, although the severity of symptoms may sometimes differ. There is currently no cure for COPD, but treatment can improve symptoms.
The most common forms of COPD include:
People with emphysema have damage to the air sacs in the lungs. The sacs don’t transfer oxygen from the air to the blood as well as they should. As the air sacs enlarge, the lungs will stretch and lose their elasticity. Air becomes trapped in the lungs and causes shortness of breath.
Chronic bronchitis is the result of irritated and swollen bronchial tubes. Bronchitis involves coughing and shortness of breath, and if you experience a mucusy cough or a cough that lasts three months at a time for two years in a row, it’s considered chronic bronchitis.
Many signs of COPD are the same as symptoms associated with the natural aging process, but COPD can progress for years without noticeable shortness of breath. The most common symptoms of COPD include:
Schedule an appointment with Dr. Mintz at any age if you notice any of the signs and symptoms of COPD.
People with mild forms of COPD don’t typically require treatment beyond quitting smoking. The first line of defense for all severity levels of COPD is to quit smoking to prevent the progression of the disease and reduce your ability to breathe.
Other common treatments include:
For people with moderate or severe COPD, Dr. Mintz may recommend lung therapies, including using supplemental oxygen or a pulmonary rehabilitation program, to improve the amount of oxygen you receive and help you maintain an active life.
If you suspect you have COPD or want to learn more about your treatment options, call the office or schedule an appointment online today.