Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is an inflammatory condition that obstructs the airflow from the lungs, causing difficulty breathing, coughing, mucus production and wheezing.
It occurs after long-term exposure to a lung irritant – which is most often cigarette smoke. COPD is a term used to describe a variety of progressive lung diseases, including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, non-reversible asthma and bronchiectasis. Regardless of the specific form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease you suffer from, you will be able to find symptom relief and a greater quality of life with expert COPD treatment from our Orange County specialists at the Lung & Allergy Institute of Los Angeles.
The most common symptoms associated with COPD include:
- A chronic cough that produces mucus.
- Shortness of breath during routine daily activities or exercise.
- Chest tightness.
- Clearing your throat in the morning to expel excess mucus.
- Respiratory infections.
- Fatigue and lack of energy.
- Unintended weight loss.
What causes COPD?
The leading cause of chronic lung disease is cigarette smoke, with 90% of cases associated with a smoking history. However, long-term exposure to other lung irritants, such as air pollution, chemical fumes or dust may also contribute to the development of this disease.
How is COPD diagnosed?
Effective treatment for COPD begins with a definitive diagnosis – something our specialists are vastly experienced in providing. To begin the diagnostic process, we will collect detailed information about the symptoms you’re experiencing, as well as your medical and family history. We will then use a stethoscope to listen for signs of wheezing and abnormal chest sounds as you breathe.
Depending on our findings, we may also perform a spirometry, which is the primary test used to diagnose COPD. During this painless test, you will blow as hard as you can into a tube connected to a small machine called a spirometer. This machine will then measure the function of your lungs and allow us to confirm a diagnosis of COPD. To determine the severity of the condition, we may also order an arterial blood gas test to measure the oxygen level in your blood. In addition, we may order a chest x-ray or CT scan which will allow us to determine if another condition, such as heart failure, is causing your symptoms.
How is COPD treated?
For patients seeking among the best COPD treatment Orange County has to offer, our specialists focus on slowing the progression of the disease, minimizing your symptoms, preventing complications, improving your overall health and restoring your quality of life. Though there is not yet a cure for COPD, long-term relief is possible with the proper care, which usually requires a multi-step approach involving medications and lifestyle changes.
Lifestyle changes for COPD
Lifestyle changes are incredibly important when it comes to managing your COPD. First and foremost, it’s critical that you quit smoking immediately, avoid secondhand smoke and stay away from areas with dust, fumes and toxic substances.
Improving your overall health and wellness is also critical. You’ll be advised to follow an eating plan to ensure you meet your body’s nutritional needs and are able to fight off infections and protect your lungs. We recommend eating small and frequent meals; resting before eating; and taking vitamins and nutritional supplements. It’s also important to stay active despite your COPD, as exercise strengthens the muscles that help you breath and can improve your overall health. During your treatment at the Lung & Allergy Institute of Los Angeles, our specialists will work closely with you to develop a diet and exercise plan that ensures your optimal health and allows you to stay active.
Medications for COPD
Though lifestyle changes are important, in many cases medication is also required to manage COPD. These medications include:
These medications relax your airways, making breathing easier. They are inhaled straight into your lungs, and may be short-acting for immediate relief or long-acting for long-term control.
If your COPD symptoms worsen, we may recommend a steroid medication to treat airway inflammation and improve your symptoms.
Vaccines and flu shots
Getting vaccinated is especially important for people with COPD, as doing so can prevent infections and potential complications from developing.
Other treatment options
In addition to medication and lifestyle changes, we may also recommend other treatment options, including:
Extremely effective in treating individuals with chronic breathing problems, pulmonary rehabilitation will include an exercise program, training on how to manage your disease and nutritional and psychological counseling.
If your COPD is severe and you have low levels of oxygen in your blood, we may recommend oxygen therapy to improve your breathing. In most cases, extra oxygen can help individuals with severe COPD perform their normal daily activities with fewer symptoms, protect their hearts and other organs, sleep through the night, boost their energy and lead longer and fuller lives.
Surgery is a last resort for individuals with severe symptoms that are not managed with medication and lifestyle changes. Surgery options may include a lung volume reduction surgery or a lung transplant. During your appointments with our specialists, we will help you determine if surgery is a viable option for your condition.
If you suffer from COPD, please know that long-term relief and control are possible with among the best COPD treatment Los Angeles has available at the Lung & Allergy Institute of Los Angeles. Please contact us today to schedule an appointment, and let us help you manage your symptoms and slow the progression of this disease.Contact Us