The official blog of the Lung Institute.
The field of COPD treatments is wide and varied. Here are a few that can make a difference.
For those who have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and have been given a clear understanding of their life expectancy, the primary concern becomes treatment. Although there are a variety of natural treatment options available today, it’s critical to understand the full scope of COPD treatments in order to make a decision that is best for you and your current condition. With COPD treatment options ranging from traditional medicine to natural treatments, understanding one’s health, lifestyle, and the efficacy of each individual treatment is imperative to making the best choice moving forward.
With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to break down COPD Treatments: What’s Out There and What Can Help to give you peace of mind in choosing a treatment plan that works best for you.
COPD Treatments: Traditional Medication
Traditional COPD treatment options are what you would consider normal medicine. This includes pills, inhalers and supplemental oxygen. Pill-based medications such as pirfenidone have shown efficacy in reducing lung fibrosis which can be particularly beneficial for those with pulmonary fibrosis. Inhalers, on the other hand, can be a great resource for relieving symptoms, whether in the short-term (short-acting bronchodilators) or the long term (long-acting bronchodilators). Oxygen therapy is, in essence, the direct delivery of oxygen through cannulas (nose tubes) which works to relieve shortness of breath. Although these medications have their benefits, they aren’t without their downsides. Pills can be expensive over time, inhalers can only act to relieve symptoms (similar to an asthma attack) without addressing the progression of the disease itself and oxygen therapy is strictly supplemental; it is unable to slow the disease or address symptoms.
COPD Treatments: Surgery
When addressing the disease head-on, some patients may consider surgery as a logical alternative if the stage of their disease is advanced enough—typically stages 3 or 4. In the realm of surgical options, there are two primary choices for COPD treatment: lung transplant and lung volume reduction surgery. In the former, the benefits of a lung transplant can be incredible. In transplant surgery, diseased lungs are replaced, giving the patient a new lease on respiratory function. Patients who’ve received a successful transplant can expect a dramatic change in their short-term quality of life, better respiratory function, and a greater propensity for physical activity.
However, the downsides of a lung transplant can outweigh the benefits. A lung transplant is expensive, and aside from the cost of the treatment itself, the cost of the immunotherapy drugs can be exorbitant. Further still, the life expectancy of a patient after a lung transplant isn’t exactly compelling. For many patients who’ve received a lung transplant, reaching even a year post-treatment is a feat only 55-70% of patients will achieve. Organ rejection is a common side effect, and despite the use of immune-weakening drugs (which can cause frequent illness), organ rejection is inevitable.
On the other hand, a lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS) is a procedure involving the removal of parts of the lungs that are not working properly. Within this removal process, the parts of the lungs that are removed allow the remaining lung tissue to function more efficiently, ultimately easing the breathing process and reducing symptoms. As with any invasive surgery, LVRS can present a variety of risks in tandem with its benefits. For example, many who suffer from COPD or other lung diseases may not be eligible for COPD treatment. Furthermore, 6 to 10 percent of people who have this surgery will die from complications.
To be an eligible candidate for LVRS, good patients will:
- Have severe emphysema that does not respond to medical therapy.
- Be younger than 75 to 80 years old.
- Have not smoked for at least 4 months.
- Have reasonable expectations of surgery results.
- Have areas of the lung that can be targeted.
- Have severe difficulty breathing, as determined by breathing tests.
COPD Treatments: Natural Alternatives
When traditional treatment options appear ineffective, overly expensive, or the side effects too great, surgery may be worth a look. When surgery appears too expensive or dangerously invasive, it may be time to consider a natural alternative. Stem cell therapy offers a significant middle ground in efficacy, cost, and safety. Using the body’s natural healing mechanism, stem cell therapy involves the extraction of these specialized cells from a patient’s blood or bone marrow and isolates them before reintroducing them into the body. As these stem cells become trapped within the lungs, they work to reduce airway inflammation (which relieves symptoms and exacerbations) and slow disease progression. Although stem cells are not universally effective (currently only 84% of patients will see a noticeable improvement), they carry no risk of rejection by the body and can serve as a natural and safe alternative to traditional medication and surgery.
It’s important to know the road ahead in the treatment of COPD. Although COPD can seem insurmountable, new discoveries are being made every day in the field of stem cell research, and the first step to living a longer life is finding the best treatment plan for you. Changing one’s diet and consistently exercising are among the best lifestyle changes one can do aside from quitting smoking. It may be time to consider stem cell therapy. Rather than only addressing the symptoms of lung disease, stem cell therapy may affect disease progression and may improve quality of life and pulmonary function. For people with lung disease, a change in quality of life could mean the difference between struggling to walk to the mailbox and riding a bike.
If you or a loved one suffers from a chronic disease like ILD, COPD, pulmonary fibrosis or other symptoms of lung disease, the Lung Institute may be able to help with a variety of adult stem cell treatment options. Contact us today at (800) 729-3065 to see if you qualify for stem cell therapy, and find out what stem cell therapy could mean for you.
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