What is it?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a long-term lung disease. It is also called COPD. One type of COPD is emphysema (m-fuh-z-muh). Emphysema occurs when there is damage to the air sacs in the lungs. These air sacs pick up oxygen from the air. When air sacs are damaged, they cannot pick up enough oxygen. This may cause trouble breathing because less oxygen is getting to the lungs.
Cigarette smoking is the most common cause of COPD. Some diseases that you are born with may cause emphysema. It may also be caused by working in mining.
Signs and Symptoms:
The most common sign is trouble breathing that gets worse from year to year. With time, you may have trouble breathing while resting. You may also cough up small amounts of sputum. People with emphysema may be thin, breathe through pursed lips, or have a barrel-shaped chest.
If you smoke, quit. Try to stay away from things that cause you trouble breathing. This may keep your emphysema from getting worse. It may help if you get shots to keep you from getting pneumonia and the flu.
There is no cure for emphysema. But it can be treated with medicines and breathing treatments. You may need to be put in the hospital for tests and treatment.
- Talk with your caregiver about the best diet for you. Eating fish and fruit often may help COPD.
Herbs and Supplements:
Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.
- Acupuncture may help you quit smoking and may help COPD.
- Massage may help COPD.
- Exercise helps emphysema.
Other ways of treating your symptoms : Other ways to treat your symptoms are available to you.
Talk to your caregiver if:
- You would like medicine to treat emphysema.
- Your symptoms have not gone away or improved by these self-help measures.
- Your sputum gets thicker even though you are taking your medicine and drinking water.
- You cough up sputum that is bloody or a yellow or green color.
- Your nail beds stay a gray or blue color even after you are breathing easier.
- You have chest pain or trouble breathing during exercise that does not go away with rest.
- You have questions about what you have read in this document.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- You are having trouble thinking clearly.
- You have trouble breathing even while resting.
- You have severe chest pressure or chest pain. Call 911 or 0 (operator) to get you to the nearest hospital or clinic. Do not drive yourself!
You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
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Last Updated: 1/4/2011