Understanding COPD

Doctor listening to patient's heart

What is COPD?

COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which includes several chronic diseases that make it hard to breathe, such as bronchitis and emphysema. The good news is COPD is often preventable and treatable. Here, we’ll talk about COPD, how to prevent it and how to treat it — so you can be more informed and take better control of your health. 

COPD is chronic, which means you live with it every day. It doesn’t go away. It just progresses and gets worse over time if untreated. COPD affects people differently. Not everyone will have the same signs or symptoms. As the COPD gets worse, more symptoms may start to develop. 

With COPD, less air flows in and out of your airways for one or more reasons:

  • Airways in your lungs become narrowed due to being swollen and thickened
  • Walls between your air sacs are destroyed
  • Airways and tiny sacs lose their ability to stretch and shrink back
  • Airways make more mucus, which can clog them and block air flow

Some of the most common early warning COPD symptoms include: 

  • shortness of breath
  • cough that may bring up sputum (also called mucus or phlegm)
  • wheezing or chest tightness
  • fatigue
  • recurring lung infections like acute bronchitis or pneumonia

If you are suffering from COPD, you are not alone. It affects 12.5 million adults and accounts for millions of emergency department visits and tens of billions in healthcare costs each year. But, with the right treatment and lifestyle changes, it can be more bearable. The physicians at Wilmington Health can help with that.

How to start with a provider here at WH

Wilmington Health Pulmonary is here to meet the needs of patients suffering from diseases of the lungs and respiratory system. Each pulmonary physician possesses specialized knowledge and skills in the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary conditions such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, pneumonia, lung cancer, sleep disorders, and pulmonary fibrosis.

What are the treatment options for COPD?

While COPD is not curable, there are treatments available and lifestyle changes you can make that will help you manage your symptoms and live a more normal life. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do to reduce your COPD symptoms.

COPD Treatments Available:

  • COPD Medications
  • Pulmonary Rehabilitation
  • Supplemental Oxygen
  • Noninvasive Ventilation (NIV)
  • Endobronchial Valve (EBV) Therapy
  • Surgery
  • Clinical Trials
  • Complementary Therapies
  • Palliative Care

But, the best treatment is prevention. Please contact our nurses if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms: Shortness of breath, more coughing/wheezing, or thick and discolored
mucus. Let us prescribe prednisone or another medication before it escalates and becomes more

If you want to learn more about COPD treatments available at Wilmington Health or set up an appointment, visit us online today.

Image of Maria Mastoras

Wilmington Health’s Maria Mastoras, NP-C, is a pulmonary specialist who diagnoses and treats patients suffering from diseases of the lungs and respiratory system. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and her Master of Science in Nursing from East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.