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COPD & Emphysema Information

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an umbrella term for a group of respiratory tract diseases that is characterized by airflow obstruction or limitation. It is usually caused by tobacco smoking but can also be caused by coal dust among other stimuli. COPD is also known as CORD, COAD, COLD which respectively stand for chronic obstructive respiratory, airways, or lung disease. COPD has been referred to as CAL which stands for chronic airway limitation...
  • COPD is a progressive disease. Obstructive changes in spirometry and decreases in diffusion capacity are typically seen before symptoms occur. Early signs and symptoms are shortness of breath on exertion, recurrent respiratory infections or a morning cough. As the disease continues, the symptoms are seen with increased frequency and severity. In the late stages, the patient often experiences severe cough, constant wheezing, and shortness of breath with minimal exertion or rest. At this late stage, progression to respiratory failure and death is common. Progression is typically caused by the patient's continued exposure to tobacco smoke. Although medications often decrease symptoms, it is not believed that they prevent the progression if the patient continues to smoke.

    Emphysema is a chronic lung disease. It is often caused by exposure to toxic chemicals or long-term exposure to tobacco smoke.

    Emphysema is characterized by loss of elasticity of the lung tissue, destruction of structures supporting the alveoli, and destruction of capillaries feeding the alveoli. The result is that the small airways collapse during expiration, leading to an obstructive form of lung disease in which air is trapped in the lungs. Symptoms are: shortness of breath on exertion--particularly when climbing stairs or inclines (and later at rest), hyperventilation and an expanded chest. As emphysema progresses, clubbing of the fingers may be observed, a feature of longstanding hypoxia.

  • Click to expand

Health Blogs

The U.S. Surgeon General is continuing to add to the official list of diseases caused by smoking cigarettes nearly 50 years after the government first issued a report on the link between smoking and deadly disease. This month, Acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak added liver cancer, colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, age-related macular degeneration, ... Read More »
I’m fortunate where I live there is much emphasis placed on the importance of not smoking. It certainly doesn’t mean no one smokes, but in my practice population, the number of parents and caregivers who smoke seems to be decreasing every year. And so when I have a parent in the office carrying the smell of smoke, I’m typically caught ... Read More »
I often hear, “I’ve never had a chest x-ray, do I need one?” Whether it’s during your annual physical or for a visit before your surgery (a preoperative clearance) many ask whether they need a chest x-ray. Unless you are having symptoms that are worrisome for lung findings (fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc) you don’t. Save ... Read More »

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