Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a disease in which the airways narrow due to inflammation. While COPD primarily affects the lungs, it is considered a systemic disorder, which means that it can affect multiple areas of the body. The COPD Program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi consists of a multidisciplinary team of experts ready to help patients manage all aspects of COPD care.
What We Treat
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a lung disease that only affects adults, usually following long-term exposure to harmful agents. In most cases, the harmful agent is tobacco smoke, but COPD may also be caused by air pollution or chemical fumes.
In COPD, inflammation caused by damage to the lungs and airways reduces airflow, which can cause a number of symptoms or health problems over time. These include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- Persistent coughing
- Coughing up a large amount of mucus
- Chest infections
During severe “exacerbations” – a sudden worsening of symptoms triggered by viral or bacterial infections – patients may need to be admitted for inpatient treatment at the Respiratory and Critical Care Institute, where they may be required to undergo intravenous treatments or other advanced therapies.
COPD is progressive and chronic, meaning that inflammation and symptoms worsen over time. There is currently no cure, but once properly diagnosed, there are ways to relieve and control symptoms as well as slow the progression of the disease.
Diagnosis & Treatment of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
A caregiver will assess the patient’s symptoms and perform various breathing tests in order to diagnose COPD, such as:
- Pulmonary function tests: A range of tests that measure how well the patient is able to breathe in and out, and how efficiently the lungs provide oxygen to the blood.
- CT scan or x-ray: These tests provide detailed images of the lungs and inside of the chest, and are particularly helpful in ruling out other conditions with similar symptoms.
Treatment of COPD
There is no cure for COPD, but symptoms can be managed and the progression of the disease can be delayed.
Avoiding exposure to the cause of the patient’s lung damage will help prevent COPD from worsening. Smoking is the most common cause of COPD, and quitting smoking is the most important step patients with COPD can take. Continuing to smoke will cause further damage to the lungs, and will reduce the effectiveness of other treatments. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has a Smoking Cessation Clinic to help patients give up cigarettes and other forms of tobacco smoking, such as shisha and midwakh.
In addition, physicians will suggest one or more forms of treatment to help manage the symptoms of COPD, such as:
- Pulmonary rehabilitation: This includes prescription medications and lifestyle changes.
- Prescription medications: Oral tablets that can help reduce the symptoms of COPD.
- Lifestyle changes: These include exercise programs, which counter the effects of reduced airflow by improving other aspects of physical fitness, and learning controlled breathing techniques.
- Inhalers: Also known as bronchodilators, these are usually prescribed to help open up the airways.
- Nebulizers: Nebulizers deliver vaporized medication, used to treat advanced COPD.
- Oxygen therapy: Provides supplemental oxygen to the lungs as a way of temporarily making breathing easier during sleep or exercise.
- Non-invasive ventilation: Breathing support with the use of a noninvasive mask.
For end-stage COPD, physicians may recommend lung volume reduction procedures, both surgical and non-surgical. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is one of only a few centers worldwide to offer innovative bronchoscopic lung volume reduction techniques, including endobronchial valves. The Lung Transplant Link program with Cleveland Clinic in the United States provides faster testing and referrals for suitable patients with no other treatment options.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Program Caregivers
The combined skills and expertise of this multidisciplinary team provide the highest quality and most comprehensive care for COPD, from early to advanced stages of the disease. The team includes:
- Thoracic surgeons
- Respiratory therapists
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