Health Encyclopedia

 

Document Search by P01155



Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary DiseaseEnfermedad Pulmonar Obstructiva Crónica

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

What is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)?

COPD is a term that refers to a group of lung diseases that can interfere with normal breathing. According to the American Lung Association, more than 13 million Americans suffer from COPD. It is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

What are the different types of COPD?

The two most common conditions of COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Some doctors agree that asthma should be classified as a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, while others do not. A brief description of asthma is included below:

What is chronic bronchitis?
Chronic bronchitis means long-term inflammation of the bronchi (the breathing passages in the lungs), which results in increased production of mucus, as well as other changes.

These changes may result in breathing problems, frequent infections, cough, and disability.

What is pulmonary emphysema?
Emphysema is a chronic lung condition in which alveoli (the air sacs in the lungs) may become:

  • Destroyed

  • Narrowed

  • Collapsed

  • Stretched

  • Overinflated

This can cause a decrease in respiratory function and breathlessness. Damage to the air sacs is irreversible and results in permanent "holes" in the lung tissue.

What is asthma?
Asthma is a chronic, inflammatory lung disease involving recurrent breathing problems. The characteristics of asthma include the following:

  • The lining of the airways becomes swollen and inflamed.

  • The muscles that surround the airways tighten.

  • The production of mucus is increased, leading to mucus plugs.

What causes COPD?

The causes of COPD are not fully understood. It is generally agreed that the most important cause of chronic bronchitis and emphysema is cigarette smoking. Other causes such as air pollution and occupational exposures may play a role, especially when combined with cigarette smoking. Heredity may also be a factor.

Are there rehabilitation programs for COPD?

The goals of COPD rehabilitation programs include helping the patient return to the highest level of function and independence possible, while improving the overall quality of the person's physical, emotional, and social life. Attaining these goals help people with COPD live more comfortably by improving endurance, providing relief of symptoms, and preventing progression of the disease with minimal side effects.

In order to reach these goals, COPD rehabilitation programs may include the following:

  • Medication management

  • Exercises to decrease respiratory symptoms and improve muscle strength and endurance

  • Respiratory treatments to improve breathing ability

  • Assistance with obtaining respiratory equipment and portable oxygen

  • Methods to increase independence with activities of daily living (ADLs)

  • Exercises for physical conditioning and improved endurance

  • Stress management, relaxation exercises, and emotional support

  • Smoking cessation programs

  • Nutritional counseling

  • Patient and family education and counseling

  • Vocational counseling

Who is on the COPD rehabilitation team?

COPD rehabilitation programs can be conducted on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Many skilled professionals are part of the pulmonary rehabilitation team, including the following:

  • Pulmonologist

  • Respiratory therapist

  • Physiatrist

  • Internist

  • Rehabilitation nurse

  • Dietitian

  • Physical therapist

  • Occupational therapist

  • Social worker

  • Psychologist/psychiatrist

  • Recreational therapist

  • Case manager

  • Chaplain

  • Vocational therapist

Most COPD health professionals consider the patient and his or her family part of the rehabilitation team. In fact, in order to develop the most appropriate care possible, many teams refer to the need for equal "partnerships" between patients and medical teams.

 
Related Items
Wellness Library
  COPD: More of Us Are Out of Breath
  Your COPD Action Plan
  How COPD Affects the Lungs
SCC Videos
  Metered-Dose Inhaler
  Peak Flow Meter
Drug Reference
  Albuterol
  Pirbuterol
  Albuterol; Ipratropium
  Formoterol
  Tiotropium
  Ipratropium
  Arformoterol
  Metaproterenol
  Salmeterol
  Acetylcysteine
Quizzes
  COPD Quiz
Disease Management
  COPD: Coping with Stress
  COPD: Safe Oxygen Tips
  COPD: Home from the Hospital
  COPD: End-of-Life Care
  COPD: A Quit-Smoking Plan
  COPD: Heartburn Is Common
  COPD: When Symptoms Get Worse
  COPD: Medicines for Maintenance
  COPD: Boost Your Strength with Exercise
  COPD: Good Nutrition Is Important
  COPD: Ease Anxiety About Shortness of Breath
  COPD: Finding the Hidden Joys of Exercise
  Overcoming Exercise Barriers With COPD
  COPD and Summer Heat
  COPD Tests Worksheet
  COPD: Oxygen Therapy Question
  COPD and Nutritional Needs
  Living with COPD and Asthma
  The Connection Between Heart Failure and COPD
  If I Have COPD, Can I Drink?
  COPD: Understanding Pulmonary Rehabilitation
  COPD: Managing Sodium and Potassium Intake
  COPD: Tips for Easier Dressing
  Should You Use an Air Filter?
  Antibiotics May Help COPD
  Share Your Medication Schedule
  COPD: How Can I Get a Good Night’s Sleep?
  COPD: Take a Hand in Your Health
  COPD: Watch the Air Quality Index
  Does Having COPD Increase My Risk for Lung Cancer?
  COPD: Terms to Know
  COPD: The Benefits of Mini-Meals
  Help for COPD and Depression
Adult Diseases and Conditions
  Pulmonary Rehabilitation
  Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD)
Pediatric Diseases and Conditions
  Chronic Lung Disease