Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) describes a number of degenerative lung diseases. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the most common forms of these diseases, and COPD is one of the leading causes of death for Americans. Patients suffering from COPD have damaged lungs and partially blocked airways, which make it very difficult to breathe. The symptoms of COPD usually do not manifest until significant damage has already been done. Symptoms generally include wheezing, chest tightness, and chronic cough. An exacerbation can include shortness of breath, which can be extremely dangerous. The disease will progressively worsen over time with- out the proper care, management and compliance.
While there is no known cure for COPD yet, the symptoms can be managed. A number of options are available to the patient, including inhalers for reducing inflammation of the lungs and anti-inflammatory medications, disease teaching and monitoring. Oxygen therapy, nebulized bronchodilators, and steroids may also be prescribed. And the patient’s physician may recommend physical therapy to maintain muscle while they are recovering from the disease.