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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the name given to a group of lung diseases that make breathing difficult and uncomfortable. These diseases are often caused by smoking or inhaling fumes and other pollutants. 

The two main types of COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. If you have COPD, you are likely to have both of these conditions. COPD can get worse over with time, which is why early diagnosis and treatment are critical.

Symptoms of COPD

With COPD, it’s hard for air to flow into and out of the air sacs in your lungs. Normally, these air sacs inflate and deflate easily, like a balloon. However, if you have COPD, these air sacs can fill with mucus, get inflamed and experience other types of damage.

In the early stages of COPD, you might not have any symptoms. But the longer you have the disease, you might develop:

  • Cough that produces a lot of mucus and/or phlegm
  • Frequent cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Squeaking and whistling when you breathe
  • Tight sensation in the chest

You may also get sick with respiratory illnesses, such as cold and flu, on a regular basis. As COPD worsens, you can also develop swelling and weakness in your legs and feet, as well as weight loss.

Treating COPD

After a pulmonologist determines you have COPD, he or she will develop a treatment plan designed for you. Treatments can include:

  • Avoiding allergens, pollutants and anything else that might trigger COPD flare-ups
  • Changes to your diet
  • Counseling and other support for quitting smoking
  • Medications that relax the muscles surrounding your airways
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Exercise, which strengthens your lungs
  • Surgery to remove damaged lung tissue

If you have a very severe case of COPD, a lung transplant might be necessary.

Contact Us for More Information

MultiCare pulmonary and critical care specialists can provide you with diagnostic and therapeutic options to manage your respiratory health. Find a pulmonologist or contact the MultiCare Pulmonary Specialists clinic near you to learn more.

Action Plan

Download the COPD Patient Action Plan:

Action PlanCOPD Action Plan 1.25.21