COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Understanding COPD Slideshow Pictures

Quick GuideCOPD Stages, Symptoms, Emphysema, Bronchitis

COPD Stages, Symptoms, Emphysema, Bronchitis

What other supplemental therapies help treat COPD complications and symptoms?

Other supplementary therapies such as treatment with antibiotics to reduce pathogen (viral, fungal, bacterial) damage to lung tissue, mucolytic agents to help unblock mucus-clogged airways, or oxygenation therapies to increase the available oxygen to lung tissues may also reduce the symptoms of COPD.

In some people oxygen therapy will increase his/her life expectancy, and improve the quality of life. This is especially true with people with COPD who have chronically low oxygen levels in the blood. It may also help exercise endurance. Oxygen delivery systems are now easily portable and have reduced costs compared to earlier designs.

Yoga may be another form of beneficial exercise that helps with breathing efficiency and breathing muscle control.

What surgery is available to treat COPD?

There are three types of surgery generally available to treat certain types of patients with COPD that include

  1. Bullectomy
  2. Lung volume reduction surgery
  3. Lung transplant surgery

Surgery may not be available or desirable for many people with COPD.

Bullectomy surgery is the removal of giant bullae. Air-filled spaces usually located in the lung periphery that occupy lung space most often in people with emphysema are termed bullae. Giant bullae may occupy over 33% of the lung tissue, compress adjacent lung tissue, and reduce blood flow and ventilation to healthy tissue. Surgical removal can allow compressed lung tissue that is still functional to expand.

Lung volume reduction surgery is removal of lung tissue that has been most damaged by tobacco smoking, usually the 20% to 30% of lung tissue located in the upper part of each lung. This procedure is not done often; it is usually done on people who have severe emphysema and marked hyperinflation of the airways and air spaces.

Lung transplantation is surgical therapy for people with advanced lung disease. People with COPD are the largest single category of people who undergo lung transplantation. In general, these people with COPD usually are at COPD stage three or four with severe symptoms and generally, without transplantation, have a life expectancy of about two years or less.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/4/2015

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