Chronic Bronchitis or Emphysema are two lung conditions that usually start in adulthood. They are similar to asthma in that they can cause shortness of breath, wheezing (musical sounds) or tightness in the chest and cough. Unlike asthma, COPD does not usually improve over time. Cough with plugs of mucus (saliva or snot) is especially common in COPD. COPD can lead to pneumonia and chronic lung damage.

COPD generally is caused by damage to the lungs. Damage occurs from breathing in unhealthy substances. Most COPD is caused by smoking or vaping. IF YOU SMOKE OR VAPE, STOP NOW TO PREVENT FURTHER LUNG DAMAGE. Other causes include air pollution, dust (farmer’s lung), chemical fumes, and inherited disorders (alpha -1 antitrypsin deficiency and others).

How do you diagnose someone with COPD? There are special breathing and oxygen tests available for adults. The easiest to perform is called Spirometry and is performed at FAMC. Spirometry can easily show if lung damage is present and if it can be reversed. Treating symptoms daily to keep the mucus down is common in COPD with the use of regular inhalers, pills, or oxygen. This will help prevent severe COPD exacerbations (worsening mucus causing pneumonia), hospitalizations, and need for lung transplant.

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