One of the many challenges of living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is finding the right treatment for COPD patients.
COPD affects everyone differently and at varying rates of progression. COPD is a chronic, progressive disease, meaning it will worsen over time. When you’ve been diagnosed with COPD, you and your doctor will work together to develop the best COPD treatment plan for you.
While there is not a cure for COPD, treatment for COPD patients is available. Here’s what you need to know.
Types of Treatment for COPD Patients
There are many types of treatment for COPD patients. For example, your doctor may recommend medications, oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation, lifestyle changes and alternative therapies.
It’s important to see your doctor regularly, even if you’re feeling well.
Your doctor will monitor your COPD symptoms, lung function and general health. If you notice a change in your COPD symptoms or start to feel unwell, call your doctor immediately.
Many doctors will recommend and prescribe prescription medications. There are many different kinds of medications.
For example, standard treatment for COPD patients typically includes inhalers. These inhalers can be short or long-acting, meaning they may be used as a rescue inhaler to ease sudden COPD symptoms or used to prevent symptoms over a long period of time.
Some inhalers combine two different types of medication in the same inhaler. These are called combination inhalers, and they care commonly prescribed.
Bronchodilators are also often prescribed to relax your airways, helping them to stay open for easier breathing. The two types of bronchodilators are called beta-agonists and anticholinergics.
Beta-agonists work to relax tightened muscles in your airways, and anticholinergics help prevent muscles around your airways from tightening. Anticholinergics can also help clear mucus from your lungs.
Sometimes your doctor may prescribe inhaled or oral steroids to help reduce inflammation and prevent COPD flare-ups. Staying up-to-date on your flu and pneumonia vaccines is also important to your lung health and overall health.
People with COPD often have difficulty receiving enough oxygen. Because oxygen is essential to a properly functioning body, your doctor may prescribe oxygen therapy to ensure you’re getting enough oxygen.
Non-prescription treatment for COPD patients can include a variety of options, including eating a lung-healthy diet, getting enough exercise, quitting smoking, taking vitamins and supplements and trying herbs.
Because exercise tolerance diminishes as COPD progresses, many people don’t get enough exercise. It has been shown that people with COPD who exercise enjoy a better overall quality of life. Talk with your doctor about a COPD exercise plan that includes gentle exercises, such as walking, yoga and Tai Chi.
Pulmonary rehabilitation is a program designed to help people with COPD improve their lung function and quality of life. It combines exercise, breathing techniques, nutritional counseling and support. As part of the treatment for COPD patients, many people benefit from pulmonary rehab.
Treatment for COPD patients can also include various alternative therapies, such as chiropractic care, acupuncture and cellular therapy.
For some patients, chiropractic care helped them feel better, reduced gasping for air and made it easier to walk longer distances. Some patients even noticed less muscle tension after receiving chiropractic care.
Acupuncture is an ancient therapy. In a recent study, people with COPD who received acupuncture noticed an improvement in their breathing, and they felt far less breathless.
Christine Kingsley, APRN is the Health and Wellness Director at the Lung Institute where she focuses on providing helpful online resources for people looking for information on various lung diseases, breathing exercises, and healthy lifestyle choices. She advocates for holistic care that involves working with your doctor to explore all options including traditional and alternative care while focusing on diet and exercise as proactive measures.