Published on February 07, 2014

Q&A: What is COPD?

with MFH pulmonologist Dr. Ajay Pillai

Ajay PillaiWhat is COPD? Dr. Ajay Pillai talks about COPD symptoms and treatment in the Philadelphia area.

Ajay Pillai, MD, a board-certified pulmonologist at Mercy Fitzgerald, talks about the challenges of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and how patients who experience shortness of breath and other symptoms of the disease can still live a full and healthy life.

Q: If you have COPD, how can you avoid hospitalization?

You should get a flu shot every year and a pneumonia vaccination every five years until age 65. It’s also important to avoid contact with individuals—including grandchildren—who have a cold or flu. That’s because if you do get a cold or flu, it can cause a flare-up of COPD, which might require hospitalization. Be mindful of hand washing. Eat a healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight, get enough sleep. And of course, don’t smoke.

Q: What about staying healthy in the coming spring months?

Some people with COPD also have asthma, which can be triggered by seasonal allergens such as certain pollens. Changes in the environment, like heat and humidity, may also trigger an exacerbation. To avoid hospitalization, patients need to know how to recognize the start of a COPD flare-up and respond quickly by visiting their family doctor or pulmonologist.

Q: Does Mercy offer services for patients with COPD?

Mercy Fitzgerald offers specialized services through its pulmonary rehab program that have been very successful in decreasing both COPD flare-ups and hospital admissions among people with breathing difficulties