COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) (cont.)

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When should I call my doctor about COPD?

A person should see their doctor if they experience any of the signs and symptoms of COPD and are members of a high-risk group for developing COPD, such as smokers.

In general, patients who notice an increasing shortness of breath that wasn't present recently, especially with any minor exertion, should make an appointment to see their doctor. Patients already diagnosed with COPD who notice an increase in symptoms should also see their doctor.

How is COPD diagnosed?

COPD is preliminarily diagnosed by a patient's breathing history, the history of tobacco smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and/or air pollutants, and/or a history of lung disease (for example, pneumonia) in a patient with COPD symptoms.

Chest X-rays or a CT scan of the chest may be done. Other tests such as an arterial blood gas or a pulse oximeter may be performed to look at the saturation level of oxygen. In addition, the patient may be sent to a lung specialist (pulmonologist) to determine their FEV1 level that is used by some physicians to stage COPD as described above.

What is the treatment for COPD?

There are many treatments for COPD; perhaps the first and best is to stop smoking immediately.

Medical treatments of COPD include beta-2 agonists and anticholinergic agents (bronchodilators), steroids, mucolytic agents, oxygen therapy, and surgical procedures such as bullectomy, lung volume reduction surgery, and lung transplantation.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/4/2014

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