Currently, there are more than 15.3 million Americans living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). However, that number is likely even higher because millions of others have the condition and don’t even realize it. At Kingwood Pulmonary, PA in Kingwood, Texas, expert pulmonologist Akinyinka Ajelabi, MD, and the team regularly work with men and women to diagnose and treat COPD. If you’re concerned about your respiratory health, don’t wait to seek treatment. Make an appointment by calling the office today.

Questions & Answers

What is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic respiratory disease that causes your lungs to become inflamed and obstructed. Left unmanaged, COPD prevents adequate airflow and causes coughing, wheezing, and excess mucus production.

Anyone can develop COPD, but it occurs as a result of exposure to chemical irritants and particulate matter, like cigarette smoke. If you’re living with COPD, you’re also at a higher risk of developing more serious health problems including heart disease and cancer.

There’s no cure for COPD, but it’s possible to manage. With adequate care, most people with COPD achieve good symptom control and a happy, healthy lifestyle.

What are the symptoms of COPD?

The symptoms of COPD tend to occur gradually over an extended period of time. In fact, many people living with the early stages of COPD don’t even realize anything is wrong.

As the condition progresses, you might develop a persistent cough or increased mucus production. Other telltale signs of COPD include:

  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Swelling in your legs and feet

If you have COPD, you’re also likely to experience what’s known as an exacerbation. Exacerbations are episodes where your symptoms become worse for a period of days or weeks, interfering with your ability to perform routine tasks.

What causes COPD?

The number one cause of COPD is chronic tobacco use. For example, if you smoke cigarettes, cigars, or a pipe for years, or even decades, you’re also more likely to develop COPD.

Other common causes of COPD include exposure to fumes from fuel burning, either for cooking or heating.

How is COPD diagnosed?

To diagnose COPD, your provider conducts a physical exam, reviews your medical history, and asks you questions about your symptoms and family health history. They may order a series of pulmonary function tests or chest X-rays to determine if you have emphysema.

Your provider might also recommend an arterial blood gas analysis. This type of test measures how well your lungs bring oxygen into your blood and how well they remove carbon dioxide from your body.

How is COPD treated?

Treatment for COPD depends on the severity of your symptoms. However, the first step toward better breathing is always smoking cessation.

Quitting smoking is difficult, but it’s also the only way to prevent COPD from getting worse. Your provider can prescribe nicotine replacement products or other medications that help ease cravings.

If your symptoms persist after you quit smoking, your provider might prescribe bronchodilators, inhaled steroids, antibiotics, or oral steroids. If you have moderate or severe COPD, he might also recommend oxygen therapy or a pulmonary rehabilitation program.

Don’t let COPD prevent you from living an active, healthy lifestyle. Request an appointment at Kingwood Pulmonary, PA by calling the office today.