What is COPD?
COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. It is the broad name for a group of breathing and lung conditions, the most common of which are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States. It can be mild, moderate or severe. It cannot be cured, but it CAN be managed so you can live your life to the fullest.
What are some warning signs that you might have COPD?
- shortness of breath, wheezing
- difficulty taking a deep breath
- a feeling of tightness in your chest
- frequent coughing
- excess phlegm
- a feeling that you can’t clear your throat
What should I do if I have one or more of the symptoms described above?
See your primary care doctor. He will be able to rule out other possible reasons for your breathing difficulties or confirm that it is indeed COPD by using a breathing test called spirometry. If your issues are mild, he may prescribe treatment for you himself. If your COPD is moderate or severe, he may refer you to a pulmonologist, a doctor specializing in the respiratory system. Pulmonary Associates of Richmond are the Richmond, Virginia pulmonologist specialists.
How can a pulmonologist help?
Pulmonologists are experts in diagnosing and treating COPD. A pulmonologist can order specialized tests that may not be available in a primary care doctor’s office to precisely diagnose your breathing issues. The pulmonologist will offer you a wide range of treatment options and work with you to devise a personalized treatment plan.
Can I still live a good life if I have COPD?
Of course, you can! You can take some positive steps to improve your overall health and manage your COPD. With the approval of your doctor, create an exercise plan. Eat well and get enough rest. Stick with the treatment plan you and your doctor have designed, and take your medication regularly. Lose weight. Pace yourself when doing your daily activities. If you are a smoker, stop smoking immediately and stay away from smoke-filled environments. Avoid people who have a cold or the flu, and get a flu shot every year. Stay inside if air pollution or smog levels are high. Avoid prolonged exposure to cold air, or wear a scarf if you must go outside when the temperature drops below freezing.
By following your specialized treatment plan and taking these positive steps to improve your overall health, you will be able to live your best life.