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Understanding COPD

Last updated 4 years ago

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a condition that involves restricted airflow and an abnormal inflammatory response in the lungs. The symptoms of COPD grow progressively worse over time. Although there is no cure, various treatments can help patients manage their symptoms. Sometimes, emergency situations can arise—when this occurs, patients should seek emergency care at the nearest hospital. Continue reading to find out more about this condition.

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of COPD tend to be mild initially, and then grow worse over time. They commonly include chest tightness, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Patients often report an ongoing cough. They may experience a cough with a great deal of mucus, which is frequently referred to as “smoker’s cough.” Patients should seek emergency care for certain symptoms, including a rapid heartbeat and a lack of mental alertness. If the lips or fingernails turn grayish or bluish, this indicates a low oxygen level in the blood, which requires emergency care.

Causes and Risk Factors

COPD is most often caused by cigarette smoke or other inhaled tobacco products. However, other types of lung irritants, such as chemical fumes and air pollution, can lead to COPD if inhaled on a long-term basis. Sometimes, COPD is a complication of asthma. In addition to those who smoke, people with a family history of COPD and those over the age of 40 have a heightened risk of developing the condition.

Treatment Options

COPD treatments can help slow the progression of the disease, alleviate symptoms, and improve quality of life. Patients who smoke are strongly advised to quit. It’s also important to avoid other types of lung irritants, like chemical fumes. Physicians may prescribe medications, such as bronchodilators. Some people with COPD may require oxygen therapy or surgery.

Fawcett Memorial Hospital provides extensive inpatient rehabilitation services, including respiratory therapy. Our friendly staff also provides high-quality cardiac care, senior care, and emergency care to those throughout the Port Charlotte area. To obtain a physician referral or to find out more about our hospital services, please call our Consult-A-Nurse line at (888) 685-1599.


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