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    COPD: Catching Your Breath

    Deaconess Clinic 01/19/2016

    Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a lesser-known respiratory disease but is every bit as dangerous and difficult to manage as asthma.  COPD is an umbrella term for a grouping of specific symptoms that are incurable but manageable with appropriate treatment and lifestyle adjustments.  The American Lung Association estimates that over 11 million Americans have a COPD diagnosis and up to 24 million have the disease but are undiagnosed.  COPD is the third leading cause of death and often causes partial to full disability.

    Sufferers experience reduced airflow through the lungs and the disease is typically characterized by difficult breathing, consistent coughing and an increase in mucous.  The cause of COPD is generally attributed to long-term exposure to pollutants, irritants or particulates.  In a very small percentage of the population (about 1%), a genetic component is responsible for the development of COPD.

    Treatment options often depend on the severity of the disease and regimens vary from patient to patient.  Treatment options include:

    • Smoking Cessation – Because cigarette smoke is the leading cause of COPD, patients are strongly encouraged to stop smoking.
    • Bronchodilators – These medications are administered in inhaler form and relax the airway muscles.  Fast-acting/short-term options are available as are daily-use inhalers that serve to keep the airways open and functional.
    • Steroid Treatment – Inhaled steroidal treatment is powerful but not without serious side effects.  Prolonged treatment can cause hoarseness, bruising and oral infections.
    • Oxygen Therapy – Supplemental oxygen increases oxygen volume in the blood and levels required are determined per patient.  While this treatment is effective in mitigating COPD, it is cumbersome as patients must be mobile with their oxygen.
    • Surgery – Perhaps the most severe, surgeons can perform a procedure to decrease lung volume and therefore increase capability for physical activity and everyday tasks.  The procedure is invasive and the recovery period significant.
    • TD-4208 – A new treatment that is currently in clinical trials, TD-4208 is an oral inhalant designed to have long-acting results and reducing incidents of exacerbation.  It also aims to reduce the amount of active patient intervention.  COPD is a high-maintenance disease and TD-4208 is intended to restore patient freedom and mobility.  Consult your doctor to determine your candidacy for trial participation.
    Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is often mistaken for asthma or dismissed as a symptom of aging.  If your ability to breathe is compromised, contact your doctor to discuss options, treatment and prognosis.  

    To learn about participating in clinical trials for COPD
    Email or call 877-654-0311

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