The medical providers at Pulmonary Associates of Richmond are lung specialists and experts in diagnosing and managing the symptoms of COPD. Also known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, COPD is a progressive lung disease that is characterized by a nagging cough, shortness of breath, fatigue and wheezing. COPD is a combination of two lung conditions, chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and it affects millions of Americans. COPD makes it difficult to breathe; however, when caught early, it can be managed with lifestyle changes, medications, supplemental oxygen therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation.

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There are risk factors that increase your chances of getting COPD, including:

  • Smoking – 85 – 90% of all COPD cases are caused by cigarette smoking

  • Secondhand smoke exposure

  • Exposure to air pollution

  • Exposure to chemical irritants, dust and fumes, (often work related)

  • Genetic condition called Alpha-1 Deficiency

  • A history of childhood respiratory infections

If you are experiencing symptoms of COPD, early diagnosis is vital to obtaining the proper treatment and restoring longevity, as well as maintaining or enhancing the quality of your life.


One of the most immediate ways to manage and treat the effects of COPD is to make lifestyle modifications, such as:

  • Stop smoking – smoking is a leading cause of COPD as well as other health conditions like lung cancer and heart disease
  • Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Wear breathing protection when using chemicals that can irritate your lungs, or working in conditions that expose you to irritants


There are two types of inhaled bronchodilators that are used in the treatment of COPD. A bronchodilator is used to help relax and open the part of the airway known as the bronchi. This bronchodilator is used to treat asthma flares as well and helps to alleviate the symptoms of COPD by dilating or widening the airway making it easier to breathe. An alternative form of bronchodilator targets different receptors in the body and works to relax the smooth muscles surrounding the airway. This improves airflow and can reduce symptoms such as shortness of breath.

Corticosteroids are used when a patient is experiencing severe symptoms. They work to reduce inflammation and can be taken by mouth (as a pill) or inhaled. This medication is reserved for short term use when your COPD suddenly worsens.

Depending on your symptoms of COPD, a combination of medications can be used to effectively treat and manage the disease. Bronchodilators and corticosteroids can be combined into a single inhaler or nebulizer solution to reduce inflammation in the airway, decrease coughing, wheezing and prevent shortness of breath.

Some patients with COPD can benefit from supplemental oxygen therapy either temporarily or for long-term use. Supplemental oxygen can help patients with COPD stay more active and feel better. To find out if oxygen therapy is right for you, call Pulmonary Associates of Richmond today at (804) 320-4243.

If you have symptoms of, or been diagnosed with COPD, Pulmonary Associates of Richmond can help you find the best way to treat and manage the disease. As lung specialists, your quality of life matters to us and we look forward to partnering with you in finding effective treatments that can restore and improve your day-to-day quality of life.