More than 15 million Americans have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) today. If you’re struggling with shortness of breath, chronic cough, and other debilitating respiratory symptoms, Dr. Akhil Vats and the experienced team at Merak Health in Rockwall, Texas can help. Both in-office visits and house calls are available for your convenience. To learn more about COPD care, call the office nearest you or book an appointment online today.

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What is COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a serious condition that affects your lungs. There are two main types of COPD:

Chronic bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis involves inflammation within the breathing tubes (bronchi) inside your lungs. This triggers extra mucus production and other health problems, like frequently coughing and tightness in your chest.


Emphysema occurs when the tiny air sacs inside your lungs (the alveoli) are damaged and can’t function as they should. This decreases your ability to hold air in your lungs.

Both types of COPD can cause numerous persistent respiratory issues.

What are the symptoms of COPD?

COPD symptoms usually include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing, which may produce mucus
  • Wheezing
  • Exhaustion
  • Frequent respiratory infections

Many people with COPD notice that their symptoms can worsen after physical activity, even with only mild exertion.

How is COPD diagnosed?

Some conditions, like congestive heart failure (CHF) and asthma, can cause the same symptoms as COPD, and these conditions can also occur alongside it as well. Up to 30% of people with COPD have obstructive sleep apnea, a condition in which you stop breathing for multiple intervals as you sleep.

Because other conditions may cause similar symptoms and sometimes overlap, the Merak Health team can perform a comprehensive exam and testing to determine which conditions you have and to further guide your treatment plan. The most common test for COPD is a lung function test, or spirometry, in which you blow into a machine to measure your lung capacity.

You may also need lung imaging tests, like a chest X-ray or a computed tomography (CT) scan. Or, you may need lab tests to check the levels of carbon dioxide and oxygen in your blood.

If the team suspects you have sleep apnea, you may need a home sleep study. If they suspect congestive heart failure, they also offer electrocardiograms (ECGs), echocardiograms (echos), or other tests.

How is COPD treated?

Treatment of COPD depends on your symptoms, lifestyle, and other personal factors. Some common approaches for COPD are:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Bronchodilator to open your lung passages (as needed)
  • Daily medications to prevent and reduce the intensity of flare-ups
  • Supplemental oxygen
  • Pulmonary rehab (exercise, nutrition, and other changes)

There are many ways to manage COPD effectively, and the Merak Health team can work with you to find the best plan to improve your breathing and quality of daily life.

For compassionate help with COPD, call the Merak Health office or use the online booking feature today.