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