Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an umbrella term that describes two lung conditions: emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Emphysema involves damage to the air sacs within the lungs, while chronic bronchitis involves chronic inflammation of the airways.
COPD is a progressive condition, meaning it worsens over time. Although there is no cure for COPD, treatments are available to help alleviate symptoms, slow the progression of the disease, and improve quality of life.
This article outlines the treatment options and lifestyle considerations that could benefit people living with COPD. We also outline tips for preventing COPD and discuss the outlook for people living with the condition.
The treatment for COPD involves alleviating symptoms, slowing the progression of the disease, and reducing the risk of complications. The exact treatment a person receives will depend on various factors, including the stage and severity of the disease and the person’s overall health.
Treatment options may include the following:
- Medications: Doctors may prescribe medications called bronchodilators, which relax muscles around the airways to increase airflow in and out of the lungs. Short-acting bronchodilators are suitable for occasional use, while long-acting bronchodilators are suitable for daily use. Doctors may also prescribe steroid medication, with oral and inhaled forms both available. Steroids help to reduce inflammatory compounds present in the lungs.
- Pulmonary rehabilitation: Pulmonary rehabilitation is a broad program that aims to improve a person’s quality of life. The program may include the following:
- education in disease management
- exercise programs
- nutritional counseling
- psychological therapy
- Oxygen therapy: As COPD progresses, it is sometimes necessary for people to receive oxygen from a portable tank. Oxygen delivery may be through a face mask, or through tubes in the nose or mouth. People may require oxygen at specific times of day, or before activities.
- Vaccines: People with COPD are at increased risk of developing respiratory infections and associated complications. As such, doctors may suggest that people with COPD receive vaccines for the flu, pneumonia, and COVID-19.
- Surgery: People who have severe COPD that is resistant to other forms of treatment may require surgical intervention. Surgery may involve removing damaged parts of the lungs, or receiving a lung transplant from a donor.
People with COPD may need to make certain lifestyle changes in order to manage the disease more effectively. Some examples are:
The main risk factor for COPD is smoking. Up to 75% of people who have COPD are current or former smokers.
The most important step for many people with COPD is quitting smoking. Doing so can slow COPD progression and …….