COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is a group of lung diseases that make it hard to breathe. The two most common COPD conditions are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. There are many things you can do to limit your risk of developing COPD, or control your symptoms and feel better if you already have it.

COPD: What You Need to Know

Prevention
Cigarette smoking usually causes COPD. Fletcher Allen offers a quit smoking program.

Teamwork
COPD is best managed by a group of specialists that include doctors specializing in lung diseases (pulmonologists), nurses, respiratory therapists, dietitians, physical therapists and occupational therapists. At Fletcher Allen, our physicians and other support staff work together as a team, providing expert care.

Personalized Care
Our pulmonary rehabilitation program for COPD treatment provides a custom tailored physical activity and education program.

Experienced, Trusted Expertise
We offer 15 physicians board certified in pulmonary medicine who regularly treat COPD, and a comprehensive clinic with specific expertise in COPD evaluation and treatment.

What is COPD?

COPD is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a serious lung disease and the third leading cause of death in the United States. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the two most common COPD conditions. Emphysema happens when the air sacs (called alveoli) at the end of the smallest air passages (called bronchioles) in the lungs are gradually destroyed. Chronic bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of your bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from your lungs.

The main cause of COPD is long-term cigarette smoking, but several factors can increase your risk of developing it, including: 

  • Smoke exposure: cigarette, secondhand, pipe, cigar and marijuana smoking all can increase your risk. Fletcher Allen offers a quit smoking program 
  • Smoking with asthma: The risk is even higher if you smoke when you already have this chronic airway disease
  • Dust and chemical occupational exposure: Long-term, workplace exposure to chemical fumes, vapors and dusts can irritate and inflame your lungs
  • Age: Most people with COPD are at least 40 years old when symptoms begin
  • Inherited disorder: it is rare, but some people with alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, an uncommon genetic condition, can develop COPD

Diagnosis and Treatment: COPD

At Fletcher Allen, we offer a comprehensive clinic with specific expertise in COPD diagnosis.

There is no cure for COPD, but it is treatable. Our pulmonary rehabilitation program combines different treatments to:

  • Help you lead a more active life
  • Help reduce your symptoms
  • Improve your quality of life
  • Encourage your active participation in your treatment
  • Help keep you out of the doctor's office and out of the hospital

Learn more about COPD diagnosis and treatment.

Find a Fletcher Allen physician or call 802-847-2444.