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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of inflammatory lung diseases that restrict airflow and causes breathing difficulties. While COPD is a chronic and progressive condition, it is treatable, and with proper management most patients can control their symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.

The two most common diseases contributing to COPD are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Emphysema is a disease that damages the alveoli, or air sacs, in the lungs, reducing the surface area available for the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen and leading to shortness of breath. Chronic bronchitis is the long-term inflammation of the breathing airways, called bronchi, leading to coughing, mucus, wheezing and chest discomfort. People with COPD experience a higher risk of other health problems including heart disease, lung cancer and infection.

The vast majority of COPD cases are caused by smoking. Long-term exposure to air pollution, secondhand smoke, chemical fumes or other irritants may also contribute to COPD.

The team at Pulmonary Consultants of San Antonio typically use pulmonary function testing and other tests as needed to diagnose COPD. Once COPD is identified, we create a customized treatment plan to help each patient achieve the best quality of life possible. For smokers, quitting is the first step. We offer offers a smoking cessation program to help patients stop smoking for good. Other treatments may include medication, supplemental oxygen and pulmonary rehabilitation to help patients breathe easier.

Click here to request an appointment or call us at 210-692-0361.

Questions & Answers

What is COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of two different diseases, emphysema and chronic bronchitis, which cause airflow issues and breathing difficulties.

Emphysema destroys the alveoli, the tiny air sacs where you exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen.

Chronic bronchitis
Chronic bronchitis causes severe inflammation within the bronchial tubes that move air in and out of the alveoli.

Usually, emphysema and chronic bronchitis occur together.

What are the symptoms of COPD?

COPD causes symptoms related to breathing, including:

  • Shortness of breath, especially after exercise or other physical activity
  • Wheezing
  • Frequent cough, which may produce mucus
  • Chest tightness
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent respiratory illnesses

Severe COPD may cause lower extremity swelling and unintended weight loss. Many people with COPD have flare-ups, called exacerbations, in which their symptoms get significantly worse for at least a few days before improving.

What causes COPD?

The main factor in COPD is cigarette smoking. In fact, 75% of people who die of COPD complications are cigarette smokers. However, not every long-term smoker develops COPD, so genetics likely contribute as well.

Less commonly, other factors like air pollution, chemical fumes, and working in dusty environments can contribute to or lead to COPD.

How is COPD diagnosed?

Asthma and some other respiratory diseases can cause symptoms similar to those of COPD, so a physical exam and diagnostic testing are vital in identifying your disease and planning the right treatment.

COPD diagnosis generally involves pulmonary function testing. This type of testing measures the air you inhale and exhale. But, you may also need other tests as well, such as chest X-ray, chest CT scan, and arterial blood gas analysis.

What is the treatment for COPD?

If you smoke, smoking cessation is the most important thing you can do for your health. The Pulmonary Consultants of San Antonio team can help you quit successfully. Your treatment may include:

  • Medication like inhalers for breathing issues, coughing, and wheezing
  • Vaccines like flu and pneumococcal vaccines
  • Antibiotics for respiratory infections
  • Supplemental oxygen

The pulmonology team may also recommend pulmonary rehabilitation, a customized treatment and education plan that helps you learn how to live more comfortably with COPD so you can enjoy the best quality of life possible.

To establish your COPD management plan, call Pulmonology Consultants of San Antonio or book an appointment online.

10007 Huebner Road, Bldg 4
San Antonio, TX 78240
FAX: 210-692-0151

Monday: 8am-4:30pm
Tuesday: 8am-4:30pm
Wednesday: 8am-4:30pm
Thursday: 8am-4:30pm
Friday: 8am-4:30pm
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed