COPD Specialist

Ahearn & Associates Medical Center

General Medicine & Family and Wellness Doctors located in Kewanee, IL

Nearly 30 million people in the United States struggle to breathe because of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and many are unaware of their condition. At Ahearn & Associates Medical Center in Kewanee, Illinois, Michael Ahearn, MD, Karol O’Neill, MS, APRN, BC-FNP, and their team provide diagnostic services and COPD treatments. To book your COPD evaluation at Ahearn & Associates Medical Center, call the office, or book online today.

COPD Q&A

What is COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is not just one condition; it’s a group of diseases affecting your lungs that progressively worsen with time. While there’s no cure for COPD, advanced treatments and calculated lifestyle changes can help you live more comfortably with your disease. 

The two most common types are:

Chronic bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis involves the inflammation of your bronchial tubes. As they swell, they become more narrow, and mucus builds up on their walls. 

Emphysema

Emphysema involves the deterioration of the air sacs in your lungs. When enough air sacs break, it becomes harder for your body to absorb the oxygen it needs when you inhale. 

What causes COPD?

The most common cause of COPD is smoking, and smoking cessation is one of the most important steps you can take to prevent COPD. In fact, 20-30% of long-term smokers get COPD at some point in their lives. 

Though smoking is the most prominent cause of COPD, it isn’t the only potential factor. Other causes and contributing factors may include:

  • Asthma
  • Air pollution
  • Exposure to chemical fumes at work
  • Exposure to fumes from cooking and heating fuel with poor ventilation
  • Genetics

COPD is not contagious, so you cannot spread it to others or catch it from others. 

What are the symptoms of COPD?

All types of COPD share the majority of their symptoms. In all cases, the symptoms start mild and progressively get more severe with time. Some people, but not all, get flare-ups of their symptoms called acute exacerbations. 

If you have any form of COPD, you might experience:

  • Recurrent cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Wheezing when you breathe
  • Frequent respiratory infections

As these symptoms get worse, others may start to appear. Fatigue is common in later stages of COPD, as is foot and ankle swelling. For the best possible treatment outcomes, you should seek care while your symptoms are still mild. 

What are my treatment options for COPD?

Treatment for COPD can’t cure you of your symptoms entirely, but it can cause a significant improvement in your quality of life and slow the disease’s progression. 

The Ahearn & Associates Medical Center team cooperates to create an individualized treatment plan for you that may include:

Lifestyle changes

For the best possible treatment outcome, you should stop smoking and avoid chemical fumes whenever possible. You may need to limit your exercise and make dietary adjustments to get the nutrition you need. 

Medications

Many medications can help you manage your COPD. They include inhaled bronchodilators, corticosteroids, and antibiotics or antiviral medicines for respiratory infections.

Oxygen therapy

If your lungs can no longer absorb the oxygen you need, you may need to receive supplemental oxygen through a nasal cannula or mask.

Surgery is a final treatment option for severe COPD when other treatments don’t provide relief. 

To find out more about COPD and begin treatment to improve your breathing, call Ahearn & Associates Medical Center, or schedule an appointment online today.