COPD

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD:  The most common chronic lung disease.

Chronic:  persisting for a long time
Obstruction:  the state of being clogged
Pulmonary:  pertaining to the lungs or the pulmonary artery
Disease:  a definite morbid process, often with a characteristic train of symptoms

COPD affects an estimated 17 million Americans, and its incidence is rising.  It now ranks fifth among the major causes of death in the United States.  The disorder affects men more frequently than women.  COPD dosesn't always produce symptoms and causes only minimal disability in many patients, it tends to worsen with time.

COPD includes:  emphysema, chronic bronchitis, asthma, or any combination of them.  Frequently, more than one of these underlying conditions coexist.  Usually bronchitis and emphysema occur together.

Cause:  May be brought on by cigarette smoking, recurrent or chronic respiratory infection, and or allergies.

Symptoms:

Dyspnea (difficulty breathing) on minimal exertion
Cough

See  Emphysema, Chronic bronchitis , and Asthma for further info.

The typical patient is asymptomatic until middle age, when his ability to exercise or do strenuous work gradually declines, and he begins to develop a productive cough.

Treatment:

Antibiotic therapy
Bronchodilators
Oxygen therapy if needed
See Emphysema, Chronic bronchitis, and Asthma for further info.

Patient teaching:  Because most COPD patients receive outpatient treatment, they need comprehensive teaching to help them comply with therapy and understand the nature of this chronic, progressive disease.

-Seek  programs in pulmonary rehabilitation
-Avoid respiratory irritants and avoid smoking
-Use bronchodilators as prescribed by your doctor
-Always complete the prescribed course of antibiotic therapy
-Pneumococcal vaccination every 3 years and annual influenza vaccinations are important preventive measures (discuss it with your doctor)
-To strengthen the muscles of respiration; do slow, deep breath and exhale through pursed lips
-To help mobilize secretions; cough and get rid of mucous (if secretions are thick, try 15 glasses of fluid a day, home humidifier, particularly in the winter.) - Postural drainage and chest physiotherapy helpful.
-It is important to have a balanced diet.

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