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:
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.
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:
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.
There is no cure for COPD. But treatments can help keep symptoms under control.
We offer a broad range of treatments, including:
Quitting smoking can stop your symptoms from getting worse. We provide information and one-on-one support to help you quit for good.
Your care may include a variety of medications, such as:
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.
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.
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.
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