One of the chronic conditions that our internal medicine Bedford TX specialists (locations also in Benbrook and Lewisville) help patients manage is a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. According to the American Lung Association, this disease is one of the U.S.’s top causes of disability and death. With November being National COPD Awareness Month, we thought it would be helpful to shed some light on what it means to live with COPD. Read on to learn more.
What is COPD?
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a category of chronic illnesses that primarily affect a person’s ability to breathe. COPD is also known to cause airway blockage. The two most common diseases under the COPD umbrella are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Researchers are still working towards a permanent cure for this condition. However, there are several effective treatments available that help people manage symptoms and live out a high quality of life.
Signs & Symptoms
It is important for patients to be aware that symptoms don’t arrive until the disease has caused a critical level of lung damage. Once it does, the symptoms of COPD often mimic many of the symptoms associated with the common cold. Some of the signs that it may be time to talk with your doctor include the following:
- Finding it challenging to take deep breaths
- Chronic cough with phlegm/mucus
- Tightness in chest
- Respiratory infections (frequent)
- Lack of energy
The first and most effective treatment recommended by our internal medicine Bedford TX team (locations also in Benbrook and Lewisville) is to quit smoking. It’s also advised to eliminate exposure to harmful fumes or dust in home and work environments. Once those obstacles are removed, there are additional treatments which may be offered. Here are some examples of common treatment options:
- Pulmonary rehabilitation
- Oxygen therapy
- Medications (Bronchodilators, steroids, antibiotics)
- Getting annual vaccinations that prevent lung infections
- Bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP)
It is important that patients go through a thorough health history and series of tests prior to beginning any type of treatment. We encourage patients to begin with expressing their concerns to their family doctor or internal medicine specialist. He or she can help you navigate the diagnosis process simply and effectively.
COPD is preventable. One of the best ways to avoid contracting this chronic disease is to quit smoking today. We know it’s hard but there are resources available to help you on your journey. Along with quitting smoking, here are some additional prevention strategies:
- Reduce/eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke
- Use protection if you work in an environment that involves frequent exposure to fumes and/or dust
- Get up to date on vaccines
- See your doctor on a regular basis to enable early detection
As medical advancements continue to progress, our internists here at Your Family Medical are passionate about applying the latest information for effectively treating you. Our passion is built on the foundation of care throughout life and in every stage of life. No matter how complex the health concern, with our accumulated expertise, we can help identify a diagnosis and execute the best treatment plan for you. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you live your best life!