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Pulmonary Medicine


Pulmonary Medicine

OptumCare Lung and Allergy Care

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or “COPD” is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs.

Symptoms include breathing difficulty, cough, mucus production and wheezing. It's caused by long-term exposure to irritating gases or particulate matter, most often from cigarette smoke. People with COPD are at increased risk of developing heart disease, lung cancer.

COPD is treatable. With proper management, most people with COPD can achieve good symptom control and quality of life, as well as reduced risk of other associated conditions.

Symptoms often don't appear until significant lung damage has occurred, and they usually worsen over time, particularly with tobacco use.

For chronic bronchitis, the main symptom is a daily cough and mucus production at least three months a year for two consecutive years. Other signs and symptoms may include:

  • Shortness of breath, especially during physical activities
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Having to clear your throat first thing in the morning, due to excess mucus in your lungs
  • A chronic cough that may produce mucus (sputum) that may be clear, white, yellow or greenish
  • Blueness of the lips or fingernail beds (cyanosis)
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Lack of energy
  • Swelling in ankles, feet or legs

People with COPD are also likely to experience episodes called exacerbations, during which their symptoms become worse than usual day-to-day variation and persist for at least several days.

Many people have mild forms where little therapy is needed other than to stop smoking. That’s the most essential step - stop all smoking.

It's also a good idea to avoid secondhand smoke exposure whenever possible.

Doctors use several kinds of medications to treat the symptoms and complications of COPD. You may take some medications on a regular basis and others as needed. For many, lung therapies are also an option.

Optum Care has a COPD Clinic which involves a Physician, a Nurse and Case Manager, a therapist and medical assistant, we are here to help.

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