About 200 million people worldwide have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD disrupts breathing and can cause poor quality of life if untreated, so Pavilion Family Medicine specialists John Ribadeneyra, MD, and Kate Wogan, FNP, offer compassionate COPD care in their Montrose, Colorado, office. Call the office or use online scheduling to make your appointment now.

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What is COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to two diseases that cause serious airway and breathing complications. This includes:

Emphysema

Your lungs have alveoli, tiny air sacs that swap oxygen and carbon dioxide as you breathe in and out. With emphysema, the alveoli are destroyed and this disrupts your breathing.

Chronic bronchitis

Your bronchial tubes transport air in and out of the alveoli. With chronic bronchitis, the lining of the bronchial tubes are highly inflamed, which disrupts breathing.

Many people with COPD have both chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

What causes COPD?

The most common cause of COPD is tobacco smoking, usually over many years. However, about 25% of people with COPD never smoked. Other factors that can lead to COPD include secondhand smoke, other air pollutant exposure, and genetics.

What are the symptoms of COPD?

Common COPD symptoms are:

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty taking a deep breath
  • Shortness of breath during physical exertion
  • Chest tightness
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Lower-extremity swelling

These symptoms occur with other respiratory conditions, like asthma and acute bronchitis, as well. If you experience these symptoms, you may need testing, such as spirometry (lung function test), blood test, or chest X-rays, to determine which condition you have.

How is COPD treated?

Treatment can relieve your symptoms and help you be more active. The first step is quitting smoking and taking steps to minimize your exposure to air pollutants. Pavilion Family Medicine provides effective resources to support you in this.

You may need pulmonary rehab, a program that helps you better manage your COPD. The program includes breathing techniques, exercise training, dietary counseling, and psychological support that can help maximize your quality of life.

Additionally, you could need medicine to ease symptoms like coughing and wheezing. If you have recurrent respiratory infections, you’ll typically need to treat them promptly with antibiotics.

When you have COPD, it’s more important than ever to have your flu shots and other recommended vaccines, such as the two pneumococcal vaccines that help prevent pneumonia and other conditions like sinus and bloodstream infections.

Some people with COPD, particularly late-stage disease, may need supplemental oxygen.

COPD is a worrying diagnosis, but it’s a manageable disease. You can enjoy the fullest quality of life again with help from Pavilion Family Medicine. Call the office or book your appointment online now.