It’s estimated that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) affects 13% of adults in the United States. Without proper treatment, these patients face progressive lung disability. If you live in Stuart, Virginia, or the surrounding areas, you can get the help you need at Patrick County Family Practice. Their team offers diagnostic tests like spirometry as well as ongoing medical treatment and support. If you have a chronic cough or shortness of breath, call Patrick County Family Practice or schedule an appointment online today.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease includes two conditions that block airflow in your lungs and can progressively worsen: chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Chronic bronchitis occurs when small airways in your lungs are inflamed and produce excessive mucus. The defining characteristic of chronic bronchitis is a mucus-producing cough that you have for at least three months a year, for two consecutive years.
Emphysema develops when air sacs in your lungs become permanently damaged. Air sacs are responsible for the flow of oxygen out of your lungs. When they’re damaged, they collapse and trap air inside your lungs. As a result, your body doesn’t get the oxygen it needs.
Many patients don’t develop symptoms until COPD significantly damages their lungs. The first symptom of chronic bronchitis is a cough, while the earliest symptom of emphysema is usually shortness of breath. However, the two conditions usually occur together, so you may experience the full range of symptoms, including:
When you have COPD, you’re more likely to develop respiratory problems like colds, the flu, and pneumonia. COPD also increases your risk for lung cancer and pulmonary hypertension, or high blood pressure in your lung arteries.
The leading cause of COPD is cigarette smoking. As you inhale smoke it damages your lungs and causes inflammation. Although they don’t often cause COPD, you can develop the disease by inhaling substances such as secondhand smoke, air pollution, and occupational dust like mineral dust or cotton dust.
The team at Patrick County Family Medicine perform a key test for diagnosing COPD, spirometry. During a spirometry test, you breath into a tube while a spirometer measures how quickly you exhale and how much air you blow out.
If you smoke, treatment for COPD begins with smoking cessation. This step is essential if you want to slow down the disease’s progressive worsening. You’ll likely receive an inhaler that contains medication to relax your airways, reduce inflammation, and help prevent future flare-ups. If your lungs can’t get enough oxygen out to your body, you’ll also need supplemental oxygen.
If you develop shortness of breath or an ongoing cough, schedule an appointment by calling Patrick County Family Practice or using the online booking feature.