Ways & How

how to treat COPD

how to treat COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), also called chronic obstructive airway disease (COAD), chronic airflow limitation (CAL) and chronic obstructive respiratory disease (CORD), refers to the occurrence of emphysema and chronic bronchitis, a pair of diseases that co-exist in the lungs and make the airways narrower. In effect, the flowing of air going to and from the lungs is limited, thus, shortness of breath occurs. Fortunately, there are several approaches on how to treat COPD. In fact, this disease is preventable. In 1990, COPD was the sixth primary cause of death worldwide. Due to the increasing smoking rates in many countries, this disease is projected to become the fourth leading cause of death by 2030. In the U.S., COPD stands as the fourth main cause of death. To understand how to address this threatening illness, let’s discuss the remedies available.

  1. See a pulmonologist. Not all doctors are experts in COPD. Pulmonologists specialize on lung-related health problems. Discuss the symptoms with your doctor so you can be medicated properly.

    You may be required to undergo lung function tests to determine the severity of your disease. The results of the test will be the basis in determining the appropriate treatment.

  2. Completely quit smoking. COPD is primarily caused by toxic particles, usually coming from smoking tobacco, which impairs the lung’s inflammatory response. Once diagnosed with COPD, smoking cessation can slow down the progression of the illness. The deterioration rate of the lungs will be delayed. Even if smoking is naturally addictive, there are support systems available so you can successfully quit. These include attending a smoking cessation program, social support and the use of varenicline, bupropion and nicotine-replacement therapy.

  3. Undergo pulmonary rehabilitation. This is a type of coordinated program involving counseling and disease management, mainly for the benefit of COPD patients. The program is effective in enhancing the patients’ exercise capacities and sense of control over their illness. While under rehabilitation, the patients learn how to manage their emotions.

  4. Maintain a proper weight. Being overweight or underweight can significantly affect the degree of disability, prognosis and symptoms of COPD. An underweight COPD patient is likely to have good breathing muscle strength provided that his or her calorie intake is sufficient enough. When combined with a pulmonary rehabilitation program and proper exercise, the chance of achieving a more comfortable life is higher.

  5. Use bronchodilator. Administered using a nebulizer or inhaler, this medicine is proven to relax the muscles surrounding the airways, enhancing air flow. The symptoms of wheezing and shortness of breath may decrease too.

    The two kinds of bronchodilator are anticholinergics and agonists. On one hand, the two types of agonists are salbutamol and terbutaline. Both are known to provide immediate relief. On the other hand, ipratropium and tiotropium are the two kinds of anticholinergics. While tiotropium can improve air flow that essentially increases the patient’s quality of life, ipratropium gives short-term but swift relief.

  6. Use theophylline. This is an inhibitor which, if given in high doses, can effectively reduce the symptoms of COPD. In lower doses, the degree of COPD exacerbations may be decreased. This inhibitor, which is also used in treating bronchial asthma, can be sourced from tea leaves or may be made synthetically.

  7. Use corticosteroid. This can be in tablet form or inhaled. This treatment is administered in order to avoid serious exacerbations of the disease. People with moderate to severe COPD can use corticosteroids.

  8. Undergo supplemental oxygen therapy. This is given whenever the COPD patient has a low oxygen level. The supplement is done using an oxygen concentrator or cylinder, and received by the patient through an oxygen mask or nasal cannula. This treatment will allow the person to perform household activities and other exercises more properly. Long-term supplemental oxygen therapy, lasting at least sixteen hours daily, does not only improve the patient’s quality of life, but the rate of survival as well.

  9. Undergo surgery. The procedure can be helpful in selected cases. Firstly, lung transplant is performed when the two factors are present: the patient is young and the disease is already severe. Secondly, lung volume reduction means the removal of certain parts of the lungs damaged by emphysema. And thirdly, bullectomy surgery involves the cutting of a large air-filled space called the bulla. If not removed, it can squash the other normal parts of the lungs.

If appropriate, people suffering from COPD must be given pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations every year. The medical tips we discussed on how to treat COPD must not be taken lightly. In other words, the treatment must be under the supervision of your health provider. While under treatment, avoid depression and never isolate yourself.


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