Breathe Easier: Diagnosing and Treating COPD
If taking a deep breath is a challenge, you could be one of millions with the undiagnosed condition COPD. COPD is a common condition and it can’t be cured, but you can easily diagnose and treat this chronic lung disease.
“Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a disease of the lungs where different air sacs get destroyed over the course of time,” explains Family Medicine Physician Emie Kuyumjian, M.D. “In some cases, genetic or manifestations from the body itself. But in most prominent cases, it’s usually from toxins from the environment.”
Sixteen million Americans have COPD, but millions more have not been diagnosed and are not being treated. Often, the primary-care physician is the first healthcare provider to notice there may be an issue. “A patient will say, ‘every time I’m doing such and such in the house, whether it’s changing my sheets, washing dishes, going to the bathroom, I’m getting so winded, I’m getting exhausted.’”
In addition to getting easily winded, symptoms of COPD include:
- frequent coughing or wheezing
- excess phlegm
- trouble taking a deep breath
COPD can be easily diagnosed using a simple breathing test. “The list of options we have to treat patients are almost endless,” says Dr. Kuyumjian. “Much, much better than years and decades ago.”
COPD cannot be cured, but it can be treated successfully using medications, pulmonary rehabilitation, or supplemental oxygen. “In the primary-care office, we have lots of resources that we can help patients,” assures Dr. Kuyumjian. “And a lot of times, we work side by side with our colleagues in pulmonology to get a good action plan, to help treat the patient, to restore a better quality of life.”
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