COPD

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    Death: Individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may die from complications of the disease. Causes of death may include lung cancer, lack of blood flow and oxygen to the brain (stroke), respiratory failure, lung infections, and heart attack.

    Heart problems: For unknown reasons, COPD increases risk of developing heart disease, including heart attacks. The heart may become enlarged because it is strained. COPD may cause high blood pressure in the arteries that bring blood to the lungs.

    Infections: Patients with COPD may suffer from frequent infections, including the common cold, flu, and pneumonia. Lung infections make breathing even more difficult for COPD patients. Infections also cause even more irreversible damage to the lung tissue. Patients should talk to their healthcare providers about recommended vaccines. The flu shot is usually recommended in non-allergic COPD patients.

    Lung cancer: Smokers with chronic bronchitis have a higher risk of developing lung cancer than smokers who do not have chronic bronchitis.

    Quality of life: People with advanced emphysema are often incapacitated. They experience shortness of breath even when resting or sitting in a chair or bed. Patients should consult their healthcare providers if they experience feelings of sadness, low self-esteem, loss of pleasure, apathy, and sometimes, difficulty functioning for two weeks or longer, with no known underlying cause. These may be signs of depression.

    You should read product labels, and discuss all therapies with a qualified healthcare provider. Natural Standard information does not constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

    Copyright © 2012 by Natural Standard Research Collaboration. All Rights Reserved.

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    ABrian Gelbman, MD, Pulmonary & Respiratory Medicine, answered
    What are common myths about COPD?

    The most common myths about COPD are that patients will die from their disease, or they will ultimately need oxygen therapy. In this video, pulmonologist Brian Gelbman, MD, dispels these misconceptions and shares accurate information about COPD.

  • 1 Answer
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    Smoking cessation: The primary cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is smoking. Patients who do not smoke are less likely to develop COPD than patients who do.

    Patients who have COPD should not smoke. Smoking cigarettes may worsen symptoms of COPD.

    Avoidance of respiratory infections: Avoid being around crowds during the cold and flu season (colder months). Washing the hands frequently, along with carrying a small bottle of hand sanitizer, helps keep viruses and bacteria away. Touching the nose or rubbing the eyes increases a patient's risk of developing viral or bacterial infections. Patients should talk to their healthcare providers about recommended vaccines.

    Control breathing: Patients should talk to their healthcare providers or respiratory therapists about breathing techniques that may help manage symptoms. Therapists may recommend relaxation exercises that may make it easier to breath. These breathing techniques may also help reduce symptoms of anxiety or distress, which occur in patients who have difficulty breathing.

    Drink fluids: With COPD, mucus tends to collect in the air passages and can be difficult to clear. Drinking plenty of fluids, such as water or 100% fruit juices, help to keep secretions thin and easy to bring up.

    Eat healthy foods: A healthy diet may help COPD patients maintain their strength and improve energy. Patients who are underweight should talk to their healthcare providers to determine whether or not they need nutritional supplements.

    Regular exercise: Regular exercise can significantly increase the capacity for physical activity. Simple breathing techniques (deep breathing) may also help.

    Visit the doctor: Patients should visit regularly visit their healthcare providers to have their lung function monitored.

    You should read product labels, and discuss all therapies with a qualified healthcare provider. Natural Standard information does not constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

    Copyright © 2012 by Natural Standard Research Collaboration. All Rights Reserved.

  • 2 Answers
    A
    ABrian Gelbman, MD, Pulmonary & Respiratory Medicine, answered
    How does stress affect COPD?

    Any patient with a pulmonary condition like COPD will have shortness of breath, a symptom that can lead to anxiety and attempts to breathe harder. Watch pulmonologist Brian Gelbman, MD, explain why stress reduction is important for controlling COPD.

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  • 1 Answer
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    AHealthwise answered

    Your history may reveal risk factors that suggest you have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or an increased risk for developing COPD, such as:

    • Cigarette smoking.
    • Family history of emphysema.
    • Work-related hazards.
    • Frequent, severe respiratory illnesses.
    • Long-term (chronic) cough with or without mucus.
    • Progressive shortness of breath.

    Your physical exam may also suggest COPD. Findings indicating COPD include:

    • An expanded chest (barrel chest).
    • Wheezing during normal breathing.
    • Taking longer to exhale fully.
    • Decreased breath sounds or abnormal breath sounds such as crackles or wheezes.

    Certain physical exam findings will help your doctor assess the severity of your condition. These include:

    • The use of "accessory" muscles, such as the neck muscles, during quiet breathing.
    • Breathing through pursed lips.
    • The inability to complete full sentences without stopping to take a breath.
    • Bluish discoloration of the fingertips or nail beds (cyanosis).
    • Swelling in the legs or abdomen.

    Any one or more of these findings may suggest severe impairment.

    A careful history and examination of your heart should also be done to exclude heart disease that can either be associated with or cause symptoms similar to those of COPD. This is especially important, because smoking increases the risk for heart disease as well as for COPD. The heart exam may reveal a rapid heart rate or show signs of heart failure.

    The liver may be increased in size, which sometimes can occur because of right-sided heart failure (cor pulmonale).

    The result of the physical exam varies. Not every person will have all the possible symptoms or signs of COPD.

    © Healthwise, Incorporated.

  • 1 Answer
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    Proper nutrition is critical for COPD patients. Weight loss, which is common in patients with advanced emphysema, can be caused by inadequate food intake in individuals too short of breath to eat. However, most weight loss in COPD patients is due to the increased metabolic demand of respiratory muscles that are overworked because of emphysema damage.
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    AAudrey K. Chun, MD, Internal Medicine, answered on behalf of The Mount Sinai Health System
    Effective drug therapies for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are available, and the earlier you start treatment, the better your chances are of controlling the symptoms, slowing progression of the disease and improving your quality of life. However, in a National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) survey of 4,184 Americans, 30% of respondents reported that they were unaware there is such as disease as COPD. It develops slowly, over many years. It tends to occur most often in people who are older, who may dismiss their symptoms as being part of the normal aging process.
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    AAudrey K. Chun, MD, Internal Medicine, answered on behalf of The Mount Sinai Health System
    The great majority of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) develop their disease as a result of smoking. Continuing to smoke after being diagnosed with COPD puts you at risk of faster deterioration in lung function. Quitting the habit is imperative for preserving your remaining lung function.
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    AAudrey K. Chun, MD, Internal Medicine, answered on behalf of The Mount Sinai Health System
    Acute exposure of several days to high-level air pollution is known to be a risk factor for exacerbation in pre-existing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A study published online in the "American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine" suggests that long-term exposure to low levels of air pollution may increase the risk of developing COPD.
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    AAudrey K. Chun, MD, Internal Medicine, answered on behalf of The Mount Sinai Health System
    Research published online in the "American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine" suggests that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may be an autoimmune condition. Of 328 study participants and 67 controls, 34% of COPD patients had abnormally high levels of auto-antibodies -- immune proteins that mistakenly target and damage specific tissues or organs in their blood. It may be that circulating antibodies attack the lungs in patients with COPD.