What is COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), also known as emphysema and chronic bronchitis, is the third-leading cause of death in the United States.

COPD is a lung disease that can cause breathing difficulties, chronic coughing with wheezing and mucus production. It is most often caused by cigarette smoking but can be developed after long exposure to irritants or gasses such as exhaust fumes, cleaning products, paint. Jobs in construction can increase exposure to such irritants. Other factors that can increase the risk of COPD include asthma and genetics.

COPD is treatable, but if left untreated, it can worsen over time. It can develop additional complications such as respiratory infections, lung cancer and heart complications. Quitting or not smoking is the best first step in the prevention of COPD. It also reduces the risk of developing lung cancer and heart disease.

If you feel you may be experiencing COPD or related symptoms, speak with your health care provider. Be sure to share your family history and any exposure to previously mentioned irritants. To get a diagnosis, your provider may conduct tests such as a lung function test, a chest X-ray or a CT scan.

Once diagnosed, your provider will go over your treatment options such as:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Bronchodilators
  • Antibiotics
  • Inhalers
  • Exercise program
  • Lung Surgery

UofL Physicians – Pulmonology Associates runs one of the most successful and comprehensive COPD Disease Management Programs in the state of Kentucky. If you or someone you know has COPD or matches the symptoms listed, call us at 502-812-1988 today to start your journey to a better quality of life.



About Hiram L. Rivas, M.D.

Hiram L. Rivas, M.D. is a pulmonologist with UofL Health whose special interests include pulmonary disease, internal medicine and critical care medicine. Dr. Rivas earned his medical degree from the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, where he also completed his residency in internal medicine. He then went on to complete his fellowship at the Ohio State University College of Medicine in pulmonary disease/critical care medicine. At the University of Louisville, he is an associate professor of medicine as well as the director of both the Pulmonary Function Test Laboratory and Pulmonary/Critical Care Fellowship Program. Dr. Rivas is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine.

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