Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death worldwide. Side Health™ is here to provide you with information on its definition, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the lungs that obstructs airflow from your lungs. The condition is dangerous because it increases your risk of developing lung cancer, heart disease, and other conditions. Both emphysema and chronic bronchitis are types of COPD.



is a disease of the lungs that destroys the fragile walls and elastic fibers of the alveoli. Your small airways collapse when exhaling, which impairs the airflow leaving your lungs.

Chronic bronchitis

causes your bronchial tubes to become narrowed and inflamed. Your lungs will also produce more mucus which can further block your narrowed tubes, and your body will cough in an effort to clear your airways.


Smoking tobacco is the usual cause of COPD, but other illnesses may also play a part in the development of the condition. Genetics may influence the development of the disease because not all smokers get COPD. Pipe smoke and air pollution may also cause COPD for some individuals. Diagnosing this condition requires thorough testing because it manifests symptoms that are similar to other diseases.

Risk Factors

Tobacco smoke exposure is the most common reason for COPD. The number of cigarettes you smoke and for how many years determines the likelihood of you developing COPD.

Asthma causes inflammation of your airways and may increase your risk of developing COPD.

Occupational exposure to vapors, chemical fumes, and dust in your workplace or home over a long period of time can cause the development of COPD.

Genetics may cause one to be more susceptible to the development of COPD. One of these factors is deficiency of alpha-1 antitrypsin which is a protein that protects the lungs. This can be tested via laboratory blood draw.


The symptoms of COPD do not often appear until there has been significant damage to your lungs. Your symptoms will usually worsen over time, especially if you are exposed to smoke.  Common symptoms of COPD include: 
Chronic cough that may produce mucus
Shortness of breath
Lack of energy
Chest tightness
Frequent respiratory infections
People with this condition may experience episodes of their symptoms becoming worse which is known as an “exacerbation” and may persist for a few days to weeks. This can include increased cough, mucus production, or change in color of mucus. Symptoms of infection such as fever, chills, and fatigue are also signs you should schedule a visit with your provider immediately. 


Thankfully, this disease usually has a clear cause and path for prevention and/or slowing progression. Some measures include the following:
Quit smoking and reduce second-hand smoke.
Avoid places with chemical fumes and dust. 
Get your annual flu vaccination shot and other recommended vaccinations.
Routine follow up with your medical provider. 


Early diagnosis is very important in the management of COPD. Your provider will review your symptoms and discuss your family and medical history. Your daily habits must also be discussed to find out if you have been exposed to irritants that may cause COPD. 

Pulmonary (lung) function testing includes multiple tests that assess your breathing and measure how much air you can inhale and exhale. Some testing also determines whether your lungs give enough oxygen to your blood.

Imaging with Chest X-ray or CT scan of your chest is used for diagnosis of emphysema and used for lung cancer screening and detection of other lung and heart problems.

Laboratory tests are used to detect genetic disorders, further characterize treatment that may be best for you, and/or to rule out other conditions that could be contributing to your symptoms.



Some of the most common therapies used for treatment of COPD include:

Smoking cessation medication and other treatment therapy can be used to help quit smoking for good.

Bronchodilators are medications that dilate your airways (bronchial tubes). These are given as inhalers that are prescribed to be used daily or as needed.

Steroids may be used to help reduce airway inflammation that leads to more difficulty breathing. Inhaled steroids are commonly used, but oral steroids may be prescribed during times of worsening symptoms.

Antibiotics may be needed during episodes of bacterial infection or for prophylaxis in the setting of COPD.

Oxygen therapy may be used if you develop hypoxemia (low oxygen in the blood) throughout the day, with activity, or throughout the night.

Remote Patient Monitoring for COPD

Pulse oximetry can be used to determine the oxygen level in the blood through a device that is placed on your finger. These readings are automatically sent to our office and help in monitoring your condition and determining appropriate therapy.

Contact us today for further evaluation and treatment of your lung condition and for more information on remote patient monitoring!