All About COPD


By Diane Carbo

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a lung disease that makes it very difficult for a person to breathe. This is one of the most common lung diseases. COPD can be in the form of Chronic Bronchitis, which results in a long-term cough with mucous. COPD can also be in the form of Emphysema, which will harm the lungs over a long period of time.

The Diagnosis of COPD

COPD is diagnosed with a complete medical history and physical. Lung function tests will assess how much air a person is able to breathe in and exhale out, as well as how well his or her lungs deliver oxygen to the rest of the body.  Spirometry is the first and simplest lung function test to diagnose COPD. This is a test that measures how much and how fast air moves out of the lungs once it has been inhaled. This simple test can detect COPD before symptoms appear.

COPD Treatment

Treatment for COPD will depend on the cause and agreed plan of the person diagnosed and her or her health care provider. For smokers, starting a cessation program is important for successful treatment. Medications in the form of inhalers and nebulizers and even oxygen therapy may be necessary. Pulmonary rehabilitation may be recommended for some individuals to offer support and assist in managing the disease.

Reversing COPD

COPD is a chronic and progressive disease. There is no cure and nothing will reverse the condition, but treatment can delay progression of the disease. COPD is a combination of chronic airway inflammation and damage to the air sacs in the lungs. Permanent damage to the lungs will have been done and will never be able to be reversed. A large part of the disease is the chronic inflammation and the narrowing of the airway. This can be decreased by reducing exposure to the source causing the inflammation. This cause may be smoking. Studies show that there is continued improvement in an individual’s lung function after continued efforts to abstain from smoking. Of course, depending on how long and how much lung damage was done, there will be a point that may not be reversed. The point is to make the effort. It is never too late to quit!

Is COPD fatal?

COPD is a chronic and progressive disease that with proper treatment and care is manageable. The present treatments may slow the progression of this disease and permit individuals to lead active lives. It is, however, possible to die from COPD.

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Diane Carbo is a registered nurse with over 37 years experience. She has worked in a hospital setting as a Charge Nurse and other settings including orthopedics/rehabilitation, home care, discharge planning, case management, oncology, hospice, senior behavioral health, assisted living, and long term care.