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COPD

Care from Allegheny Health Network (AHN) can slow the rate at which your COPD symptoms progress. We also coordinate tests, treatments, and support so you can focus on the activities that matter most to you.

What Is COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) happens when your lungs become damaged and no longer work as well as they should. COPD is a progressive disease. When a disease is progressive, it gets worse over time.

COPD includes two types of lung disease. Some people experience just one, while others experience both:

  • Chronic bronchitis is a condition that causes swelling in the small tubes (bronchioles) that deliver air to and from the lungs.
  • Emphysema is a lung disease that happens when there is permanent damage to sacs of tissue on the surface of the lungs.

COPD is common in people who regularly smoke cigarettes or are exposed to other people’s cigarette smoke. Living in a place that has poor air quality, such as Pittsburgh, also increases your risk for this disease.

COPD Treatment at AHN: Why choose us?

At AHN, we use a team approach to treat COPD. Lung disease doctors (pulmonologists) work alongside nurses, pharmacists, and other specialists to care for your unique needs. You may also be able to see multiple specialists in one visit so can get back to your daily activities sooner. Find out more about our Breathing Disorders Center.

Other highlights of our program include:

  • Highly skilled physicians: You receive care from doctors who specialize in treating COPD. Their experience from treating a large number of patients helps us anticipate your needs. As a result, you receive timely care, including additional tests and treatments when necessary. Meet our pulmonary disease doctors.
  • Personalized support: Our team includes nurse navigators who specialize in caring for people with lung diseases, such as COPD. They explain what to expect any time you receive a new test or treatment. And they’re available by phone if you have questions between appointments.
  • Innovative care: We are one of the first programs in the country whose team includes an inpatient COPD care coordinator. If you end up in the hospital, this specialist works with your physicians to keep your treatment moving forward. And when you are ready to go home, the coordinator shares important details about your care with your regular (outpatient) care team.

Care for COPD exacerbations

A COPD exacerbation happens when your symptoms suddenly get worse, making breathing more difficult than usual. Specialized care from us can lower your risk for a hospital visit. But if you do go to the hospital, we coordinate every step of your treatment to make sure your recovery stays on track.

During a COPD exacerbation, our nurse navigators offer personalized recommendations and support to help you manage symptoms from home. This assistance can help you prevent a hospital visit. We may also suggest seeing a pulmonologist at a same-day appointment.

If you require hospital care, our inpatient COPD coordinator makes sure you receive all the necessary treatments to recover as quickly as possible. The coordinator also shares important details, such as medications that may need an immediate refill, with your outpatient care team. This level of care makes sure nothing about your care is missed, which lowers your risk for future hospital stays.

Our COPD treatments

There is no cure for COPD. But treatments can help keep symptoms under control.

We offer a broad range of treatments, including:

Smoking cessation services

Quitting smoking can stop your symptoms from getting worse. We provide information and one-on-one support to help you quit for good.

Medications

Your care may include a variety of medications, such as:

  • Bronchodilators to relax airway muscles, making it easier to breathe
  • Rescue inhalers that deliver medications you breathe in for quick, temporary symptom relief
  • Maintenance medications you regularly take for long term symptom control

Pulmonary rehabilitation

We teach you techniques to decrease breathlessness and improve your ability to perform daily activities. And we show you sitting and standing positions that conserve energy. We may also recommend taking rest breaks throughout the day and eating smaller, more frequent meals. Find out more about pulmonary rehabilitation.

Oxygen therapy

If you are not getting enough oxygen, we may prescribe oxygen therapy. During this therapy, you receive additional oxygen by breathing it in from a mask that connects to an oxygen tank.

Vaccinations (shots) to prevent COPD exacerbations

Keeping up-to-date with flu shots and the pneumonia vaccine can prevent you from getting respiratory infections that can hurt your lungs. These shots decrease your risk for COPD exacerbations. Ask your physician for information about the shots that are right for you and how to get them.

Contact us

Call (412) DOCTORS (412) 362-8677 or request an appointment to learn more about AHN COPD services.

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