COPD Specialist

Walter J. Willoughby, Jr., M.D.

Pulmonologist & Sleep Specialist located in Las Vegas, NV

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) affects about 13% of American adults. Although COPD can cause progressive lung damage, receiving comprehensive medical treatment and individualized care from Walter J. Willoughby, Jr., MD, can slow the disease progression and help you stay active. Early treatment is important, so call the office in Las Vegas or schedule an appointment online at the first sign of a mucus-producing cough or shortness of breath.


What is COPD?

COPD is a generic name that includes several lung conditions, including:

Chronic bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis develops when the small airways in your lungs become inflamed and produce a large amount of mucus. The primary symptom of this condition is a mucus-producing cough that’s present for at least three months of the year.


Emphysema occurs when tiny structures in your lungs called air sacs become damaged. Air sacs have the important job of sending oxygen out of your lungs and into your body. When the air sacs are damaged, they collapse and trap air in your lungs.

There’s currently no cure available for COPD. Although the condition progressively worsens, you can slow it down with early and ongoing treatment.

What symptoms develop due to COPD?

The first sign of chronic bronchitis is a cough. For patients with emphysema, the first symptom is usually shortness of breath. Since both conditions often occur together, you may have all the symptoms that are typical for chronic bronchitis and emphysema:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronic cough
  • Excessive mucus
  • Chest tightness
  • Wheezing
  • Fatigue

COPD makes you more susceptible to other respiratory problems such as colds, flu, and pneumonia. You’re also at a higher risk for developing lung cancer and pulmonary hypertension, which is high blood pressure in the arteries serving your lungs.

What causes COPD?

The primary cause of COPD is smoking. When you inhale smoke, it irritates the airways and causes inflammation. Though they’re not common causes, you may also develop COPD by inhaling secondhand smoke, air pollution, and dust that’s encountered in certain occupations such as agriculture, forestry, construction, and mining.

How is COPD treated?

Dr. Willoughby performs comprehensive lung testing, including spirometry, which indicates how well your lungs are working. When you take a spirometry test, you simply breathe into a tube while a spirometer measures how quickly you exhale and the amount of air you exhale.

Treatment for COPD is always based on each patient’s health needs. If you smoke, your treatment begins with stopping smoking. Smoking cessation is essential to slow down the progression of COPD.

You may receive an inhaler that contains medication to relax your airways, reduce inflammation, and prevent coughing attacks or flare-ups. If your COPD prevents you from breathing in enough oxygen, Dr. Willoughby may also prescribe supplemental oxygen.

If you have a cough or shortness of breath, call Walter J. Willoughby, Jr., MD, or book an appointment online.