COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and refers to a range of degenerative lung disorders. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the two most common forms of this condition. The prevalence of coexisting conditions among COPD patients is high. The progressive damage caused by emphysema to the lung's air sacs restricts the patient's ability to breathe normally. The mucus builds up when the bronchial passages become inflamed and narrowed due to bronchitis.
About 30 million Americans are thought to be living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Almost half of those who have it don't know it. As time passes without treatment, COPD worsens, the condition progresses, and cardiac problems and respiratory infections worsen.
Treatments for COPD
The condition can be managed by treating its symptoms, consequences, and overall progression. A pulmonologist is a medical doctor who specializes in treating respiratory diseases, and other members of your healthcare team may include a physical therapist and a respiratory therapist.
1. Stop Smoking
Smoking cessation is the cornerstone of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) treatment. Your doctor or pharmacist should be able to suggest some options that will make things simpler for you. When combined with counseling and medicine, your chances of successfully quitting smoking increase to roughly three times as high.
2. Get Vaccinated
A flu shot is your best defense against the influenza viruses circulating this winter; get one every year. If you get vaccinated against the flu, you lower your chances of contracting severe complications like pneumonia and heart problems if you ever get the virus. People with chronic illnesses, including COPD, can get it for free through the NHS.
Keep your coronavirus shots up to date. Pneumococcal infection, a type of bacterial infection that can lead to pneumonia and other ailments, is another thing your doctor should advise you to get vaccinated against. The one-time acquisition of this is all that is required.
Staying away from people with colds, flu, sinus infections, or sore throats will help prevent getting sick. Be cautious about promptly obtaining treatment for any conditions if you get them.
3. Pulmonary Rehabilitation
People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can benefit from a structured program of exercise and education known as pulmonary rehabilitation (PR). Among the best therapies for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, it ranks high. Seek a referral from a medical professional, such as a doctor or nurse. You'll work with others for the course duration (often between six and eight weeks).
About half of each session will be devoted to actual physical activity. All of this will be planned to ensure you get just the proper amount of exercise. More specifically, you will learn about and be advised on:
- How to catch your breath and what positions can help
- What to eat to relieve stress
- Directions for using inhalers and other medications
- A plan of action for dealing with illness
Having a better understanding of PR can aid in managing your COPD. Even though it's only a Band-Aid, you'll soon feel stronger and more in command of your life thanks to this treatment.
Continue your usual exercise routine, keep yourself active, and put what you've learned into practice even after the course has ended. Please learn more about the importance of staying active by reading our resources or calling our hotline. Keep in mind that getting out of breath when exercising is entirely normal and healthy.
Most people report that PR enhances their exercise capabilities and overall quality of life. In many cases, the effects of PR are more noticeable than those of inhaled drugs. You can maximize the benefits by combining the two strategies.
4. Look after other health conditions
The vast majority of persons with COPD also deal with other chronic illnesses. Conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, muscular and joint pain, and mental health issues like anxiety and depression are all examples. Reasons why this might occur include:
- People with COPD may be smokers, and smoking is linked to various other diseases and conditions.
- COPD is more prevalent among the elderly because of the general trend toward the prevalence of long-term medical issues as people age.
- People with COPD have difficulty breathing, making them less active and raising the chance of developing further health issues.
Ensure you're getting the care you need for all your health issues and that your symptoms are being addressed. A common complication of COPD is heart disease, which can also contribute to extreme fatigue and shortness of breath. Shortness of breath is a common symptom of anxiety, making it even more challenging to deal with.
5. Medications for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
In consultation with your medical team, you will determine which drugs are best for you. This will be determined by the severity of your COPD, how it impacts your daily life, and any potential adverse effects.
6. Oxygen therapy
If your healthcare provider thinks oxygen treatment could help, they may refer you to a specialist. Only those with oxygen deficiency will benefit from treatment with oxygen. Individuals with adequate oxygen levels will not experience any relief from its use. Rather than a lack of oxygen, trouble breathing is the most common cause of discomfort in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which cannot be treated.
7. Non-invasive ventilation (NIV)
People with severe COPD may get severely ill because they cannot expel the waste gas carbon dioxide from their lungs. Non-invasive ventilation may be offered in cases where a patient is admitted to the hospital with a severe exacerbation of their disease and elevated carbon dioxide levels (NIV). When doing so, a person wears a mask over their nose or their nose and mouth and is attached to a machine that forces air into the lungs. When using NIV, you can rest your muscles and more effectively exhale carbon dioxide.
People with severe but stable COPD who have elevated carbon dioxide levels in their blood may also benefit from receiving NIV at home (hypercapnia). Tell your doctor if you're experiencing morning headaches consistently. If you have shallow breathing at night, non-invasive ventilation in the home may help. You may be evaluated to see if this treatment benefits you if your blood carbon dioxide levels are high.
8. Lung volume reduction process
The amount of air trapped in the lungs is decreased by lung volume reduction techniques. Only 1-2 percent of persons with COPD are good candidates for the operations, and they only help those with emphysema. To reduce lung volume, a surgeon may remove diseased or damaged lung tissue or insert valves into the airways to seal off the most emphysematous areas.
After undergoing pulmonary rehabilitation for emphysema, if you still find that you cannot engage in daily activities due to shortness of breath, you may want to discuss the possibility of a lung volume reduction treatment with your doctor. Your primary care physician (PCP) can refer you to a specialty clinic for this operation as part of the standard NHS care system.
9. Lung Transplant
There are very few candidates for a lung transplant because it is a significant operation fraught with risk. Unfortunately, the supply of donated lungs is insufficient to fulfill the current demand.
The likelihood of a successful lung transplant determines whether or not you will be considered for one. Your overall health and fitness, the presence or absence of any other medical disorders that would render you unable to tolerate the surgery, and your weight are all examples of such factors. It's also a requirement that you haven't smoked in at least six months.
There is no hard and fast age limit. However, people with COPD who are significantly older than 60 are not joint recipients of lung transplants. If you think you could qualify, discuss it with your doctor.