If you have shortness of breath, chronic coughing, and trouble breathing, you could have a disorder called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD. Health experts say the treatment depends on the type of COPD.
Dr. Sunil Pammi, a pulmonologist with Lee Memorial Health System, says the most common COPD conditions are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. “COPD is an umbrella term and it basically encompasses two major diagnoses.”
While both conditions have similar symptoms they have different triggers. Smoking is the most common cause of emphysema. “Chronic bronchitis is a little different than emphysema. Chronis bronchitis is caused by repetitive infections. The definition is to have cough and mucus production for three months out of the year for two consecutive years,” said Dr. Pammi.
Other things like second hand smoke, dust, and animals can also trigger symptoms for both chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Health experts say while chronic bronchitis can happen at any age, patients are usually in their 50s before they are diagnosed with emphysema.
“An important thing to remember in both emphysema and chronic bronchitis is this is an inflammatory disease process. Chronic bronchitis is a repetitive infection and emphysema is this repetitive inflammation from smoking,” said Dr. Pammi.
While there are treatments available for chronic bronchitis, emphysema is an irreversible disease that can’t be cured. “The most effective way to reduce the progression of emphysema is to stop smoking. But chronic bronchitis is a little different because it’s a repetitive infection so the treatment plan is geared towards avoiding those infections and treating infections quickly,” said Dr. Pammi.
If you suffer from COPD symptoms your doctor may want to run a series of tests to determine which type of COPD you have.
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Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we’ve been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.