The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Constant coughing, tons of mucus and shortness of breath were the symptoms that Alan battled all the time until he finally visited his primary care physician. At that time, like more than 12 million others in the United States, Alan discovered that he had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Granted his symptoms decreased to some extent, which was the good news. But what Alan did not realize was that the treatment meds that his doctor prescribed caused additional problems for him. So question: Is there any way to manage COPD medication side effects?
Are COPD Medication Side Effects Manageable?
People with COPD can suffer from a host of symptoms such as an ongoing cough, increased mucus production, shortness of breath, wheezing and fatigue. And with that being said, COPD medication is designed to keep these symptoms at bay with flare-ups being few and far between. Sounds promising but with the help comes a double-edged sword. COPD medication side effects do occur. But thankfully, it is possible to manage them.
First, it is important to know what type of COPD medication is being prescribed. The following are some of the most common:
- Bronchodilators, which can be short or long acting, and are used via an inhaler or nebulizer (needs to be plugged in). This type of medication helps open up the COPD sufferer’s airway.
- Corticosteroids, which can be taken as a pill or inhaled and used to decrease inflammation in the lungs.
- Antibiotics are usually prescribed when a person has an acute flare-up of symptoms due to an infection.
- Anti-anxiety medication is given to people, usually with severe COPD who have become anxious about the inability to breathe easily.
Believe it or not, one of the easiest ways to manage COPD medication side effects is to learn how to properly use an inhaler. When you don’t use an inhaler correctly, it is possible to not receive the right amount of medicine. And thus side effects can develop.
Corticosteroids have quite a number of side effects such as gaining weight, retention of water, bone weakening and compromised immune system. Packing on the pounds and keeping the water retention down can be managed with a healthy and balanced diet that is salt-free along with drinking plenty of water. Keeping bones strong can be accomplished by pumping up your calcium intake as well as trying weight-bearing exercises with a doctor’s approval. And your immune system can be bolstered by adopting some easy lifestyle modifications such as:
- Get plenty of sleep
- Don’t or limit smoking
- Wash hands often
- Limit alcohol consumption
- De-stress with yoga and meditation
Depending upon the antibiotic, side effects can sometimes occur and range from gastrointestinal distress to dizziness. If severe enough, you should alert your physician.
And with anti-anxiety medication, people can become extremely sleepy and tired so it is important to not drive when experiencing these symptoms. In addition, addiction can occur with prolonged usage.
If you see a number of different physicians, it is extremely important for each one to know what medications have been prescribed to treat your COPD. Keep in mind that medications can interact with one another and cause even more side effects.
Despite the fact that COPD is a life-threatening illness and can’t be cured, it can be effectively treated with stem cell therapy. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with COPD, contact us at the Lung Institute or call (800) 729-3065 today.