What You Need to Know About Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Dr. Carol Ash

Watch our What You Need to Know About COPD Video

We are health care providers at RWJ University Hospital at Rahway, where we help to take care of many people with COPD. COPD is one of the more common conditions we see. Here at RWJUH at Rahway, we are committed to doing everything we can to help you and your loved ones learn how to manage your diagnosis.

Learning You Have COPD With Carol Ash, DO

Being told you have COPD can be difficult. Many people feel overwhelmed when they first learn they have this condition. You may already have questions like “What is COPD? How did I get it? Will I ever feel like myself again?”

First, you should know that you’re not alone. In fact, about 15 million people in the United States are thought to have COPD. We are here to help you understand what COPD is, what it means to live with this chronic condition, and learn about ways to treat it.

You can also seek support from other people with COPD who may understand what you’re going through or from support groups that you can join.

And make sure you share this program with your family and friends. Learning about your condition may help them understand what you’re going through so they can help.

Just remember as you move forward that knowledge is power, especially when it comes to your health. The more you learn about COPD, the better you’ll be able to control your condition—and not let your condition control you.
Let’s begin by learning more about COPD.

Understanding COPD With Ingrid Brown, MSN, RN

What is COPD?

COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Let’s break down what each of those words mean.
“Chronic” refers to a condition that either lasts for a long period of time or that never goes away. In COPD, it means the changes in your lungs will always remain the same—even if you feel better on some days.

“Obstructive” means “blocking” or “preventing.” For people with COPD, this describes the feeling that less air is able to flow in and out of the lungs.

“Pulmonary Disease” refers to a condition that affects the lungs.

What are the symptoms of COPD?

By now, you probably already have some idea of what it feels like to live with COPD. People with COPD describe feeling short of breath. You may have noticed this when you do activities like walking up stairs. Shortness of breath can get worse during respiratory tract infections, such as a chest cold or pneumonia.

People with COPD may also have a cough that won’t go away, and when they cough, it can bring up mucus or phlegm from deep within their lungs.

Some other symptoms I see less often are a feeling of tightness in the chest and wheezing—a whistling sound coming from the lungs.

COPD is a progressive disease. This means that it will keep getting worse at a faster rate over time if left untreated. This is especially true if the person with COPD continues to smoke, or if their COPD repeatedly flares up.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for COPD; once you get it, you will always have it. But the good news is that you can have control over how COPD makes you feel. With the right changes to your lifestyle and the right medicine, you may be able breathe better.

Living Better With COPD With Paula Erickson, RRT

Although there is no cure for COPD, it can be managed. Remember, it may take time for you to feel a difference, but with small changes in your lifestyle and the right medicine, you can change the way you feel for the better.

How to Use Your RESPIMAT Inhaler With Carol Ash, DO

Most medicines for COPD come in an inhaler. You use the inhaler to breathe the medicine into your lungs. The COPD medicine you have been prescribed is delivered through the RESPIMAT inhaler, which may be different from other inhalers you have used in the past.

Every inhaler takes some time to learn how to use it at first. But after your first few times using your RESPIMAT inhaler you’ll get the hang of it.

What We Learned Today With Carol Ash, DO

While COPD can be a challenge to manage, getting the right treatment is an important step to living well with COPD.

For more information, call 732-499-6208.