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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

What is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)?

COPD is a term that refers to a group of lung diseases that can interfere with normal breathing. It is estimated that more than 11.6 million Americans suffer from COPD. It is the fourth leading cause of death in the US.

What causes COPD?

The causes of COPD are not fully understood. It is generally agreed that the most important cause of chronic bronchitis and emphysema is cigarette smoking. Other causes such as air pollution and occupational exposures may play a role, especially when combined with cigarette smoking. Heredity may also be a factor.

Rehabilitation for COPD:

The goals of COPD rehabilitation programs include helping the patient return to the highest level of function and independence possible, while improving the overall quality of life – physically, emotionally, and socially. Attaining these goals help people with COPD live more comfortably by improving endurance, providing relief of symptoms, and preventing progression of the disease with minimal side effects.

In order to reach these goals, COPD rehabilitation programs may include the following:

  • medication management
  • exercises to decrease respiratory symptoms and improve muscle strength and endurance
  • respiratory treatments to improve breathing ability
  • assistance with obtaining respiratory equipment and portable oxygen
  • methods to increase independence with activities of daily living (ADLs)
  • exercises for physical conditioning and improved endurance
  • stress management, relaxation exercises, and emotional support     
  • smoking cessation programs
  • nutritional counseling
  • patient and family education and counseling
  • vocational counseling