What are the Treatments for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and what Medications are Involved?
Last month we discussed what Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is, what the signs and symptoms are, and how it is diagnosed. COPD is thought to be the result of long term exposure to lung irritants which damage the bronchial tubes and alveoli in the lungs. Shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness and a persistent cough are some of the symptoms of COPD. A physician will diagnose COPD based on symptoms, medical and family ,history, and test results. COPD is a preventable disease that affects some 12 million people worldwide. Understanding how to treat, prevent and manage COPD is fundamental to the overall well being of the patient and their family.
COPD has many treatment options that include medications, vaccinations, pulmonary rehabilitation, and oxygen therapy. Medications include bronchodilators and steroids. Bronchodilators relax the muscles around the airways to help open them up. There are short-acting (4-6 hour) and long-acting (12 or more hours) bronchodilators. If the COPD is mild, a short-acting inhaler may be prescribed/and used only when symptoms occur. If the COPD is moderate to severe, a combination of the two types may be used. Steroid inhalers are used with moderate to severe COPD to decrease the swelling in the airways. The flu and pneumonia can cause major complications in people with compromised lung function due to COPD. Flu and pneumonia vaccines are proactive treatments used to decrease the risk of contracting these illnesses. Pulmonary rehabilitation is a medically supervised program which includes exercise, counseling, disease management training and psychological counseling. It is designed to improve health, well-being and activities of daily living. Oxygen therapy is for those who have severe COPD complications, which can cause decreased levels of oxygen in the Blood. The extra oxygen can help protect the heart and other organs from damage, increase alertness, improve sleep patterns and reduce some of the symptoms.
There are a number of steps that can be taken to prevent or slow the progression of COPD. Try to
avoid lung irritants such as cigarette smoke, chemical fumes, air pollution and dust. Smoking is the number one cause of COPD. Talk to a doctor about treatment options to help with quitting. If the air quality is poor, try to stay indoors on those days, if possible. Try to avoid new paint fumes and insecticides inside the home. Have painting and pest spraying done when there will be adequate time spent outside the home. If COPD has been diagnosed, it is important to stay with the medication regimen the doctor has prescribed. Make sure that there is always a supply of current medications by refilling them before they run out. As the disease progresses, and the severity and regularity of the symptoms increase it may be helpful to adjust daily activities. Place the items that are used daily in one place that is easy to access. Hire someone to assist with daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning, bathing and dressing. Keep phone numbers for the hospital and doctor, as well as a list of all medications handy in case of an emergency.
As always, do not self-diagnose. The information given in this article is intended to inform the reader about COPD and other chronic diseases.
For more information please contact Assisting Hands Home Care® at 281-540-7400 or visit us on the web at www.assistinghands.com. or the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute website at www.nhlbi.nih.gov .•