Pulmonary

Q: What interventions are most effective in helping with COPD?

A:

Although there is no cure for COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), progression of the disease can be slowed with treatment and lifestyle modifications.

Smoking cessation is the number one factor in slowing the progression of COPD. Avoiding exposure to second hand smoke also plays a significant role in symptom modification. 

Exercise has been shown to have clear clinical benefit for people with COPD. A regular, medically supervised exercise program provides the maintenance of lean muscle mass critical for both the underweight and the overweight. Ironically, being too thin can be just as bad as being obese as it pertains to a lack of lean muscle mass.

Treatment of COPD often includes medication. Although they cannot regenerate lost lung tissue, these medications can minimize symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing, and sputum production and allow maximization of existing lung function by reducing inflammation within lung tissue.

Finally, prevention and early intervention of respiratory infections are pivotal in COPD management. This includes being up to date with vaccinations to pneumonia and influenza, as well as frequent hand washing and communication with your health care provider at the earliest signs of any change in COPD symptoms.

Jason Birnbaum, MD
Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine

Q: What is pulmonary rehab and how will it benefit me?

A:

Pulmonary rehabilitation is a medically supervise exercise program. It incorporates an in depth and focused education designed for individuals who have been diagnosed with respiratory disease, or significant breathing problems. The purpose of this program is to help participants improve their overall quality of life. 

Pulmonary rehab utilizes techniques and principles that incorporate exercise and education as well as the development of goals for both. These goals include decreasing symptoms such as shortness of breath or fatigue, allowing for an increase in one's ability to carry out activities of daily living. The result is an increase in one's independence. Patients also develop better insight and understanding into their particular condition as well as ways in which the body can adapt.

Once accomplished, studies have shown pulmonary rehab to decrease hospitalizations, while allowing a quicker return to productive living. Other benefits include a reduction in anxiety and depression often associated with severe breathing limitations and the inability to lead a fulfilling and productive life.

Jason Birnbaum, MD
Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine

Q: Is it true that asthma is becoming more common?

A:

Yes; according to the CDC, asthma is increasing its foothold in our population and now affects 1 in 2 adults in the U.S. and 1 in 11 children. Although experts do not yet have a definitive answer as to why asthma rates are rising, they do agree that teaching asthma sufferers to correctly manage their symptoms is vital to decreasing its negative effect on daily life.

Understanding asthma triggers is the first step in managing asthma. The triggers are different for each person, but the most common are allergies-including seasonal, dust, mold, and pet allergies- as well as upper respiratory infections, physical activity , smoke and pollution.

Khalid Puthawala, MD
Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine