COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is a group of disorders that affects your respiratory system. It interferes with the airflow in your lungs and prevents adequate oxygen delivery to your body. Up to 12 million adults across the United States have COPD, and it causes around 120,000 deaths every year.
The three primary COPD disorders are:
Emphysema damages your alveoli, which are the air pockets in your lungs. As a result, air becomes trapped in your lungs and limits the amount of oxygen reaching your bloodstream.
Chronic bronchitis affects the central airways of your lungs (bronchi), blocking them with excessive mucus and causing swelling and irritation of your airways.
Refractory asthma is an irreversible type of asthma that's resistant to traditional medical treatments. It causes tightening and swelling of the bronchial airways.
The most likely cause of your COPD is smoking or significant exposure to other people's smoke. Other things that increase your chances of developing COPD include having family members with the disease and exposure to dust or harmful fumes over a long period.
COPD disorders are chronic and incurable. However, with expert treatment and care management, you can slow down the rate at which your symptoms progress and lower your risk of developing long-term complications.
COPD typically causes shortness of breath that often worsens over time. This breathlessness can become so severe you might struggle to get around. Other COPD symptoms include:
Without treatment, COPD is potentially life-threatening, so contact Southern New Hampshire Internal Medicine as soon as possible if you have these symptoms.
In addition to a physical exam and a review of your symptoms and medical history, your provider at Southern New Hampshire Internal Medicine conducts pulmonary function testing to diagnose COPD. These tests include:
A spirometer has a mouthpiece that you breathe into, which connects to a small electronic device.
Plethysmography involves sitting or standing inside an air-tight booth to complete the tests.
Pulmonary function testing measures a variety of lung functions, including how much air you have in your lungs when breathing in and out and how much air your lungs can hold at maximum capacity.
After assessing your COPD, your provider at Southern New Hampshire Internal Medicine prepares a suitable treatment program for you, which could include:
While these treatments can't cure COPD, they do allow you to live a longer, more rewarding life.
To benefit from expert COPD treatment, call Southern New Hampshire Internal Medicine today or book an appointment online.