House Call: COPD – Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death in the United States. 

It is estimated that 16 million people in the U.S. are currently diagnosed with COPD, with an additional 14 million estimated to be in the beginning stages of the disease and not yet diagnosed. 

COPD is a preventable and treatable disease that is characterized by persistent, progressive airflow limitation often associated with chronic inflammatory response. 

The main symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath and chronic coughing—with or without mucous.  COPD exacerbations, characterized by worsening of the patient’s respiratory symptoms, are common and can be extremely dangerous for the patient. 

Upon diagnosis, the disease is classified within four categories of severity ranging from mild to end-stage COPD.  Like many other diseases, early detection is key.  The earlier the stage in which COPD is diagnosed and treated, the easier it is to manage and increase quality of life for the patient. 

Worldwide, tobacco smoking is the most common risk factor for developing COPD.  Therefore, the first and most important line of treating the disease is to quit smoking. 

Fortunately, there are several treatment options available to improve the quality of life for COPD patients.  It is important for patients to discuss their individualized treatment plan with their doctor, which may involve a combination of inhaler medicines, oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation and proper immunizations.  Cone Health has an exceptional network of pulmonologists and related healthcare providers dedicated to educating, treating and improving the quality of life for individuals with COPD throughout the community.

Spokesperson Background:

Dr. Murali Ramaswamy is a pulmonary and critical care specialist at LeBauer Pulmonology and a member of Cone Health Medical Staff.  Dr. Ramaswamy is a 1995 graduate of Coimbatore Medical College in Tamil Nadu, India.  He completed his residency in internal medicine at MetroHealth Medical Center at Case Western University, and completed a fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine at University of Iowa Healthcare.  Dr. Ramaswamy is a clinical assistant professor at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Medicine, and serves as the assistant director of Piedmont Respiratory Research Foundation.