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What is COPD?

What is COPD?


Most of us have experienced bronchitis or flu that caused constant coughing for days or even weeks. What if that cough lasted for months or even years? Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) experience long-term coughing, wheezing, mucus production, difficulty breathing. COPD is an umbrella term for chronic lung disease which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Most COPD patients in the United States and other developed countries are diagnosed after years of smoking cigarettes. Smokers of cigars and marijuana, as well as those exposed to second-hand smoke, are also at risk of developing COPD. Exposure to chemical lung irritants in the workplace or to cooking in the home with organic cooking oil most often seen in under-developed countries may also develop COPD.


Patients with emphysema experience damage to the tiny air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. These sacs stretch out of shape which prevents your lungs from expelling all the carbon dioxide from the lungs and leaves less room for fresh oxygen to fill the lungs.

Chronic Bronchitis

When the tiny, hair-like structures (cilia) inside your lungs airways become damaged, they can no longer perform their duties to clean your airways. This damage may cause swelling in the airways which limits how much oxygen can enter the airways.

Refractory (non-reversible) Asthma

Asthma causes bronchial airways to swell and tighten, reducing the amount of air allowed into the lungs. In normal asthma, medications can reverse this swelling and tightening. In refractory asthma, normal asthma medications can not reverse the effects of an asthma attack.

By the time a patient experiences symptoms of COPD, the disease has progressed for a long time. Most COPD patients are over the age of 40 due to the long-term exposure to irritants required to develop the disease. Symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath, especially during physical activities
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Having to clear your throat first thing in the morning, due to excess mucus in your lungs
  • A chronic cough that may produce mucus (sputum) that may be clear, white, yellow or greenish
  • Blueness of the lips or fingernail beds (cyanosis)
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Lack of energy
  • Unintended weight loss (in later stages)
  • Swelling in ankles, feet or legs

If you’ve experienced any of these symptoms over multiple weeks, its time to contact your doctor. While you may not have COPD, the presence of these symptoms on a consistent or recurring basis point to a medical problem which requires the assistance of your medical provider. If you’ve been diagnosed with COPD and do not have a regular, general practitioner to help you manage your disease alongside your pulmonologist, call our office today at 662-282-4226 to schedule an appointment with one of our providers

One final word. While COPD has no cure, it is easy to prevent. If you smoke, stop. If you need help quitting smoking, you aren’t alone. Let our providers help you find a cessation program that works for you.

Who Needs A Pneumonia Vaccine?

Pneumonia VaccinePneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs. Often the inflammation causes the air sacs to fill with fluid making breathing difficult. Viruses, bacteria, or fungi can all cause pneumonia. Symptoms often include:

  • a cough with phlegm or pus
  • fever
  • chills
  • sharp pain in the chest
  • dehydration
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • malaise
  • clammy skin, or sweating

Antibiotics can treat many forms of pneumonia. Some forms of pneumonia can be prevented by vaccines.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) some kinds of pneumonia, not all, can be prevented with vaccines. A pneumonia vaccine does not prevent all cases of pneumonia. Walking pneumonia, for example, currently has no vaccine and is preventable with good hygiene habits. However,the vaccine can lower your chance of catching the disease. It can also decrease the severity of symptoms if you are unfortunate enough to catch the disease.

Who does need the pneumonia vaccine?

Not everybody needs to get a pneumonia vaccine. If you’re a healthy adult between ages 18 and 64, you can skip this vaccine.

People age 65 and over

As we age our immune systems don’t work as well as they once did. That’s why everyone over the age 65 should receive a pneumonia vaccine.

People with weak immune systems

Some illnesses and procedures weaken our immune system and make us susceptible to other diseases. People with the following chronic illnesses are susceptible to pneumonia and need the pneumonia vaccine:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Emphysema
  • Asthma
  • COPD
  • HIV
  • AIDS

The same goes for anyone who has recently had chemotherapy or had an organ transplant.


If you smoked for many years, you’ve done definite damage to your lungs. You may have damaged the little hair like structures called cilia that help your lung filter out germs. If you’re a smoker, you’re susceptible to pneumonia and need to consider the vaccination. Fortunately, quitting smoking can actually help you prevent pneumonia.

Heavy drinkers

If you drink every day, you might notice that you are sick with more colds, flus or other illnesses than people who don’t drink. Alcohol can weaken the immune system and make the body more susceptible to infections. If you drink often, you need to consider a pneumonia vaccine.

People getting over surgery or recovering from a severe illness

If you have been in the ICU (intensive care unit) and needed a ventilator to help you breathe, you are at risk of pneumonia. The same goes for those healing from surgery or serious injury.

Is there a pneumonia season?

Contrary to popular belief, pneumonia doesn’t have a season. Not in the same way we have flu season anyway. If your medical care professional suggests a pneumonia vaccine, you can get them anytime of the year.

Now that we’ve mentioned the flu…flu often becomes pneumonia. In fact, about one-third of all pneumonia cases in this country are caused by respiratory viruses, most commonly influenza.

If it’s flu season, you can even get a pneumonia vaccine at the same time that you get a flu vaccine, as long as you receive each shot in a different arm.

If you are in need of a flu vaccine or a pneumonia vaccine, give us at call at 662-282-4226. We’d be happy to make you an appointment.

How to Tell If It’s Pneumonia

PneumoniaPneumonia is an infection that inflames air sacs in one or both lungs, which may fill with fluid. Pneumonia is treatable, but spotting the infection early presents a challenge. It’s often difficult to diagnose because the symptoms of pneumonia are very similar to the symptoms of a cold or the flu.

When to Call Your Doctor for Pneumonia

Call your medical care provider if you have a cough that won’t go away or you’re coughing up pus. Other symptoms that could spur a call:

  • Chest pain
  • Fever that stays at 102 F or higher
  • Shaking chills
  • Shortness of breath as you go about your day
  • Trouble breathing

If you experience pain in your chest, you need to see a medical care provider. If left untreated  pneumonia can cause permanent damage to the lungs. Because it shares symptoms with cold and flu, people will often self medicate at home. If you don’t see improvement in a few days, don’t write it off.

Pneumonia symptoms last longer than the cold and flu. Resting, drinking plenty of fluids, and taking over the counter medicine can help you recover. However, if you are still experiencing coughing, chest pain, and congestion after three to five days, you should seek medical care.

Pneumonia Prevention

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) some kinds of pneumonia, not all, can be prevented with vaccines.There are two kinds of pneumococcal vaccines available in the United States:

  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine
  • Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine

The CDC recommends pneumococcal conjugate vaccine for all children younger than 2 years old, all adults 65 years or older, and people 2 through 64 years old with certain medical conditions. The CDC recommends pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine for all adults 65 years or older, people 2 through 64 years old with certain medical conditions, and adults 19 through 64 years old who smoke cigarettes.

Several other vaccines can prevent illnesses which may turn into pneumonia including:

Vaccination is one of the best ways parents can protect infants, children, and teens from potentially harmful diseases.The flu shot is important because everyone is at risk for the flu. Those with weaker immunity such as young children, adults over 65 and people fighting cancer, diabetes, HIV or any other disease are more likely to develop complications which can lead to pneumonia. In these groups, pneumonia symptoms can be life-threatening.

Do you have pneumonia like symptoms? Give us a call at (662) 282-4226. Mantachie Rural Health Care can provide prompt, affordable pneumonia treatment. Schedule an appointment today!

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