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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Personalized COPD Treatment from Pulmonary Specialists

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also called COPD, can range from mild to very severe. This pulmonary disease includes various conditions, most often chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Most people with COPD have both chronic bronchitis and emphysema, but in varying degrees. Whether you suffer from constant coughing and wheezing, difficulty breathing or chest tightness, it’s critical to see a pulmonary specialist for an accurate diagnosis to begin treatment quickly. While COPD cannot be cured, it is possible to slow the rate of lung function loss. The pulmonary specialists at University Hospitals have the expertise, experience and technology for COPD diagnosis and COPD treatment through personalized care plans that help people manage symptoms and maintain a productive lifestyle.

Expert Diagnosis Capabilities for COPD

For patients with COPD symptoms such as a cough or wheezing, University Hospitals has several tools to help diagnose your condition. Some of the most common include the spirometry test and the plethysmography test: With spirometry, a machine measures how much air you breathe in and out Plethysmography is a test that tells physicians your lung volume or how much gas is in your lungs

Specialized Treatment for Severe COPD

Because COPD is a progressive disease, the pulmonary team at University Hospitals checks patients’ progress regularly. If symptoms worsen, we are prepared with advanced COPD treatment options. These may include:

  • Oxygen Therapy: COPD may cause low oxygen levels, so oxygen is delivered through nasal prongs or a mask. It can be done on an as-needed basis, or all the time.
  • Surgery: Our pulmonary surgery team performs specialized procedures for COPD patients who do not respond to medication and treatment. Surgery may include:
    • Bullectomy: Bullae are large spaces of air that form in the lungs if the walls of your air sacs are destroyed. When these air spaces become large enough, they interfere with breathing. A bullectomy removes bullae and improves the ability to breathe.
    • Lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS): This procedure to remove damaged lung tissue requires a highly skilled surgical team. It’s a viable option for only a small number of patients with advanced emphysema, but for these few it can offer dramatic benefit.
    • Lung transplant: For critical patients, our surgical team may recommend removing the damaged lung and replacing it with a healthy lung from a donor. Your team can help determine if you are a candidate for lung transplantation.

COPD Rehabilitation Improves Quality of Life

Living with COPD can be a challenge, especially as the disease progresses. With chronic bronchitis, airways become inflamed and produce too much mucus. This condition causes a cough, known as “smoker’s cough,” and may lead to severe breathing problems. With emphysema, air sacs in the lungs are destroyed, damaged, collapsed, narrowed, stretched or overinflated. Damage to the air sacs cannot be reversed. It causes permanent holes in the tissues of the lower lungs. To help manage symptoms, the pulmonologists at University Hospitals work with you to develop a rehabilitation plan that promotes a functional, independent lifestyle. Our pulmonary rehabilitation team helps patients:

  • Manage COPD medications
  • Improve their breathing with respiratory treatments
  • Obtain respiratory equipment and portable oxygen
  • Boost their independence with activities of daily living
  • Improve physical conditioning and endurance through exercise
  • Manage stress and get emotional support
  • Quit smoking
  • Learn healthy eating habits
  • Get counseling and training tools for themselves and their families

Quit Smoking to Ease COPD: University Hospitals Can Help

COPD is sometimes caused by genetic factors, or by environmental factors such as poor air quality at home or at work. However, smoking is the primary cause of COPD. In fact, up to 75 percent of COPD sufferers are current or former smokers. Smoking also makes COPD worsen and triggers flare-ups. Our COPD smoking cessation team understands how important — and how difficult — it is to quit smoking. They’re ready to offer techniques to help stop smoking, as well as to help with:

  • Stress management
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Education
  • Motivation

COPD Pulmonary Support Group

When it comes to lung health, you’re not alone. The Pulmonary Support Group at University Hospitals has partnered with the American Lung Association’s Better Breathers Club to encourage all patients and their family members – in a supportive environment. Our group support meetings offer opportunities to learn more about COPD, acquire coping strategies and receive emotional encouragement from our pulmonary support staff.

Learn More about Specialized Care for COPD Patients

If you or someone you love is suffering from COPD, talk to one of our pulmonary specialists at University Hospitals. Our pulmonary care team is ready to help – at a range of convenient locations.