Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an inflammatory lung disease that affects 13% of adults in the United States. While there’s currently no cure for COPD, Beata I. Styka, MD, in Palos Heights, Illinois, offers early treatment and ongoing management of COPD that slows down disease progression and helps maintain your quality of life. To receive comprehensive care for COPD, call the office or schedule an appointment online today.
COPD is a general term that includes two lung conditions:
Chronic bronchitis develops when the airways in your lungs become inflamed and produce excess mucus. As a result, you have a mucus-producing cough that lasts at least three months and continues to recur for two years or longer.
Emphysema occurs when air sacs in your lungs become damaged. Air sacs are tiny structures responsible for sending oxygen out of your lungs and into your bloodstream. When the air sacs are damaged, they collapse, trapping air inside your lungs and depriving your body of oxygen.
COPD is caused by long-term exposure to irritants that injure your lungs. The most common cause is cigarette smoke, but other types of tobacco smoke, such as cigars, also harm your lungs.
You can develop COPD from breathing secondhand smoke, air pollution, and chemical fumes. You’re also at risk if you work in an environment that generates dust particles. For example, you may work in the mining industry, in a timber mill, or in a factory where grains are processed.
The first symptom of chronic bronchitis is usually a cough. If you have emphysema, however, the earliest symptom is shortness of breath. Patients with COPD have several of the following symptoms:
The severity of your symptoms increases as lung damage gets worse. As your COPD progresses, late stage symptoms include weight loss, blue lips or fingernails, and swelling in your ankles and feet.
Your COPD treatment is individualized to meet your health needs, but the first step is the same for everyone: If you smoke, it’s critical to stop. As soon as you quit smoking and remove those irritants, the progression of your COPD slows down, and you may prevent complications.
There isn’t a cure for COPD, so your treatment focuses on relieving your symptoms and maintaining optimal lung function. Dr. Styka may prescribe inhaled bronchodilators to open your airways or corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and prevent flare ups.
When your COPD progresses to a moderate or severe stage, you’ll need additional treatments. Many patients improve their quality of life with oxygen therapy and by participating in a pulmonary rehabilitation program.
If you develop an ongoing cough or shortness of breath, call Beata I. Styka, MD, or book an appointment online today.