What is COPD?
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is another name for emphysema or chronic bronchitis, which are typically smoking-related diseases.

COPD damages the tiny air sacs in the lungs, called alveoli. This causes the lungs, which normally stretch as a person breathes in, to lose elasticity. The air sacs enlarge and air is trapped in the lungs. As a result, breathing becomes more difficult and tiring as the disease progresses.

Patients with COPD commonly experience shortness of breath, sputum, and cough.

What is a COPD exacerbation?
Many people with COPD also experience what are called acute exacerbations or flare-ups, a worsening that can cause them to be more short of breath, produce more mucous or have cold-like symptoms. During an exacerbation, patients may feel exhausted and experience a decrease in appetite. Many people experiencing a COPD exacerbation must call their doctor or go to the emergency room or hospital to get help.

How is COPD Treated?
Treatments include medications to open the airways of the lungs, and oxygen breathed from a tank. Pulmonary rehabilitation – in which patients learn specific exercise and breathing techniques, nutritional guidelines, vaccinations for pneumonia and influenza, and stress management strategies – are also components of a standard course of therapy that can bring good results for many patients. When people have flare-ups of their COPD, antibiotics are frequently used. In addition, a surgical procedure called Lung Volume Reduction Surgery (LVRS), which reduces up to 30% of the patient’s most diseased lung tissue, has recently been shown to help select types of COPD patients who suffer from emphysema.