COPD Awareness and Symptoms

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a group of progressive lung diseases, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Both conditions make breathing more difficult. They often occur together in COPD patients with varying degrees of severity.

What are the Symptoms of COPD?

Symptoms are often mild at first, becoming increasingly severe as the disease progresses. The initial COPD symptoms are easy to mistake for the common cold. These include:

  • Occasional shortness of breath, especially after physical exertion
  • Mild, recurring cough
  • Gunk in the throat, especially when you first wake up

As the lungs become more damaged, COPD symptoms worsen. Signs of progressing emphysema and chronic bronchitis include:

  • Shortness of breath following mild exertion
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Chronic cough, with or without mucus
  • Frequent respiratory infections, including colds and the flu
  • Low energy level
  • Need to clear mucus from the lungs daily

What Causes COPD?

About 80 to 90 percent of COPD patients are current or former smokers. In all, 20 to 30 percent of smokers develop COPD, usually sometime after age 40. The risk is higher for people who have asthma and smoke. Other COPD causes include genetics and prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke, cooking smoke, and other pollutants that damage the lungs. The condition is not contagious.

How is COPD Diagnosed?

Doctors diagnose COPD by observing your symptoms, considering your medical and family history, and performing a lung function test called spirometry. During this painless, non-invasive test, you inhale deeply and blow as forcefully as possible into a tube connected to a small machine called a spirometer. The machine measures your air output, known as forced expiratory volume (FEV1), which can reveal whether you have COPD.

What are the Four COPD Stages?

Along with diagnosing COPD, spirometry testing also uncovers the severity of your lung disease so you and your doctor can formulate a treatment plan. The four stages of COPD include:

  • Grade 1 (mild): FEV1 is at 80 percent or higher
  • Grade 2 (moderate): FEV1 is at 50 to 80 percent
  • Grade 3 (severe): FEV1 is at 30 to 50 percent
  • Grade 4 (very severe): FEV1 is at 30 percent or lower

Rest assured that you can live comfortably for many years with COPD, especially if you have a mild or moderate case. Still, you can improve your quality of life immensely and slow the progression of this chronic disease by seeking proper treatment. Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, medication, oxygen therapy, and surgery.

COPD Care in Texas

Exceptional Emergency Center is a freestanding emergency room offering COPD treatment in Amarillo, Beaumont, Brownsville, Ft. Worth, Harlingen, Livingston, Lubbock, Port Arthur, Saches/Garland, Orange, and Tyler, TX. For the safety of our patients and staff, we are taking extra precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19, so you can confidently seek treatment for lung disease at our emergency hospital.

To ask questions about COPD, or to inquire about our ER services, please contact us today.

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COVID-19 TESTING UPDATE:

The Exceptional Emergency Room staff and physicians care about you and your loved ones. We are here 24/7 for all your emergency care needs.

  1. If you are experiencing fever, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, weakness, numbness, sensory loss, or any other emergent medical problems, please call 911 or seek medical care immediately at your nearest Emergency Room.
  2. To provide the highest quality emergency medical care to our communities, we are directing all routine COVID testing to outpatient community resources.
  3. Testing through local resources, including your primary care doctor, urgent care, walk-in clinic, or local health department, is appropriate under the following circumstances:
    1. If you have been exposed to a person known to have COVID, and you do not have symptoms, we recommend that you self-quarantine at home and seek testing 4-5 days after exposure. It often takes this long for the infection to be detected by routine lab testing.
    2. If you have no symptoms or very mild symptoms, outpatient testing is also typically appropriate.
    3. Please follow this link for local COVID testing resources.
  4. If you have tested negative, you should still self-quarantine for 14 days from the day of suspected exposure as it can take anywhere from 2-14 days to come down with symptoms of this infection.
  5. Please kindly limit your phone time with our Emergency Rooms as the phone lines are needed to communicate with other health care entities and to provide patients their test results. Thank you for your understanding during this trying time.