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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a combined diagnosis of both emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Patients with COPD have difficulty breathing that typically progresses over time.
Smoking is the leading cause of COPD. Most people with this disease are former or current smokers. However, COPD can be caused by other conditions, such as alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, or by excessive exposure to lung irritants, such as air pollution, chemical fumes, or dust.
In COPD, the following changes occur in the lungs:
COPD is most often diagnosed during middle or old age, and although there is currently no cure, treatment can help you feel better and stay active, and can slow the progression of the disease.
According to the American Lung Association, more than 11 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COPD, but as many as 24 million may have COPD and not know it. It is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.
COPD develops slowly and worsens over time. Symptoms may include:
Symptoms of COPD usually begin after age 40. Some people report swelling of the ankles, feet or legs; unexplained weight loss; and decreased muscle endurance as the disease progresses.
The doctors at Norton Thoracic Institute (NTI) specialize in treating patients with advanced or end-stage cases of COPD, helping manage its symptoms and restoring a higher quality of life. As part of the diagnostic process for COPD, you may undergo the following exams:
As of yet, there is no cure for COPD. However, medical treatment and lifestyle changes can help you feel better, become more active, and slow the progression of the disease.
To learn more about our services, call 602.406.4000.