COPD – chronic pulmonary disease – obstructs airflow through your lungs. While there is no cure for COPD, symptom management and slowing declining lung function are at the core of the COPD treatment offered by Dr. Benjamin Laracuente and his team at Tri-State Pulmonary in Monaca, PA. Our goal is to effectively manage symptoms, decrease the frequency of acute COPD episodes, and improve your overall quality of life.

What Is COPD?

COPD is a progressive (meaning it worsens over time) disease that makes it difficult to breathe. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the two main conditions of COPD. Although most common among longtime cigarette smokers, long-term inhalation of other lung irritants such as dust, air pollution, and chemical fumes can also lead to COPD. COPD is also linked to a genetic contributor.

COPD reduces airflow in and out of the airways due to one or more of the following:

  • Air sacs losing their elasticity
  • Destroyed walls between air sacs
  • Airway walls becoming thick and inflamed
  • Clogging of the airways due to excessive mucus production

How To Manage Your COPD

Managing your COPD may include any or all of the following:

  • Medications – Upon a COPD diagnosis, Dr. Laracuente may prescribe one or more medications. Bronchodilators may be prescribed to widen airways and make breathing easier. Corticosteroids may be prescribed to reduce airway inflammation. Antibiotics can be prescribed to ward off bacterial infections of the respiratory tract.
  • Pulmonary Rehabilitation – Living with COPD naturally requires a period of adjustment. While shortness of breath and a cough can certainly impede physicality, pulmonary rehabilitation teaches patients how to improve or maintain their physical abilities in spite of such symptoms. Medically supervised pulmonary rehabilitation often includes breathing exercises, muscle strengthening, light cardiovascular exercise, nutritional counseling, and disease management support. The end goal is to instill confidence in patients that they’re still able to live a normal life despite their COPD.
  • Lifestyle Changes – Anyone diagnosed with COPD should immediately quit smoking. Dietary changes are also important. The Cleveland Clinic has posted nutritional guidelines for people with COPD.
  • Counseling – It’s not uncommon for attacks of breathlessness to lead to periods of anxiety and/or depression. Normal sleep and eating patterns can be lost and some people naturally have difficulty accepting that they can’t be as physically active as they’d like to be. Tell us what you’re feeling – if need be, we can refer you to a psychiatrist/psychologist or local COPD support group.
  • Oxygen/Surgery – Oxygen support may be needed if severe COPD has resulted in low oxygen levels in your blood. Dr. Laracuente may recommend the use of a portable oxygen tank, where oxygen is received through an adaptable nasal tube or facemask. If COPD has already led to significant lung damage that isn’t responding to treatment, surgery is often the only recourse. A bullectomy, where enlarged air sacs inhibiting breathing are removed, may be needed. Another common COPD-related surgical procedure is LVRS (Lung Volume Reduction Surgery) where damaged lung tissue is removed. In severe cases of COPD, a lung transplant replacing the diseased lung with a healthy donor long may be a necessity.

Early Detection Is Key

The earlier we can diagnose COPD, the sooner we can slow the disease from progressing and take measures to maintain your overall quality of life for as long as possible.

We recommend you talk to Dr. Laracuente if you’re a current or ex-smoker, have had serious asthma symptoms that don’t improve with treatment, work an occupation that exposes you to a lot of chemicals and dust, or you have a family history of emphysema.

If COPD is suspected upon evaluation of your condition and medical history, screening tests such as spirometry, a lung function test, an arterial blood gas test, and x-rays or ECGs may be ordered.

Contact us today at 724-728-5995 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Laracuente and the Tri-State Pulmonary in Monaca, PA.