COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is a condition that attacks the respiratory system and it becomes worse over time, making it more and more difficult for the patient to be able to breathe. One of the most common known causes of this condition is smoking, and so it’s important to consider cutting down – or better yet, quitting – if you’re a smoker.
For those who are struggling with the respiratory system, there are a range of COPD treatment options available – including medications and rehabilitation – however, the most important thing for any sufferer to do is to cut the habit of smoking.
Understanding the different treatments available, as well as when they might be most appropriate, could go a long way in helping you to make a decision about which one will be right for you. Simply read our handy guide of question and answers to make the best decision.
Is There a Cure of COPD?
No, at the moment there is no cure as the damage it causes to the lungs is irreversible. There are, however, a range of things that a sufferer can do to stop the condition from worsening, as well as treatments and therapies that can ease the symptoms of the condition.
What Causes COPD?
As we’ve said previously, smoking is a common cause of this condition, but it’s not the only one. Other causes include air pollutants, such as burning wood, air pollution, biomass fuels, advanced age and genetic abnormalities. In many instances, prolonged exposure to pollutants is necessary to trigger this condition.
How Can Inhalers Help with COPD?
Inhalers tend to be one of the most common COPD treatment options because it’s the fastest way to deliver medication directly to the lungs.
What is more, inhalers are very easy to use and they can be carried around in a person’s pocket easily enough. There are different types of medications that are delivered via inhalers, all offering different pros and cons.
What are the Benefits of Short-Acting Bronchodilators?
Short-acting versions of bronchodilators are usually the very first option offered to sufferers of COPD. The biggest benefit of these treatment options is that they relax and widen the airways, making it easier to breathe.
Usually, one of two types of bronchodilators are given out by doctors; beta-2 agonist and the antimuscarinic inhalers. These inhalers are only to be utilized up to 4 times a day, during those instances when you are struggling to get a breath.
How Often Should You Use Long-Acting Bronchodilators?
Long-acting versions of bronchodilators, which are also divided into beta-2 agonist inhalers and antimuscarinic inhalers, are to be utilized only one or two times a day.
Each dose is meant to last as long as 12 hours and they are meant for sufferers who struggle with their breathing multiple times per day.
When Are Steroid Inhalers Better than Bronchodilators?
Those who have utilized both the short and long-acting bronchodilators and are still having difficulties breathing might be prescribed steroid inhalers, which are more powerful and contain corticosteroids.
This actually helps to reduce inflammation within the airways. It should be noted that these are usually used in conjunction with the other inhalers.
Why Opt for Theophylline Tablets?
In the event the inhalers simply aren’t working, you might want to consider medications which work to relax and open up the airways. Theophylline tablets are usually taken about 2 times a day and you’ll need to undergo regular blood tests to check the levels of medication in your system.
Keep in mind that these tablets come with side effects, including headaches, sleeping difficulties and being sick.
Why Are Steroids only For Short Term Use?
In instances where the COPD condition is particularly bad – or during a very bad flare-up – your doctor might look at prescribing a course of steroid tablets, but these are usually restricted to use for between 7 and 14 days.
This is because of the side effects associated with steroid use, including weight gain, mood swings and the weakening of bones. When you’re using this form of treatment, your doctor will need to monitor you very closely.
Which Symptoms are a Sign of Infection?
COPD could cause chest infections, which need to be treated with anti-biotics.
The symptoms of a chest infection include; high temperatures, coughing up of green or yellow phlegm, chest pain, increased heart beat rate or feeling disoriented or confused. If you are struggling with these symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor.
What is Pulmonary Rehabilitation all About?
Pulmonary rehabilitation is a form of COPD treatment that helps to increase your overall fitness levels and allows you to be more active before you experience feelings of breathlessness. This type of program usually includes a set of exercise and dietary goals, as well as emotional support.
What Can I Expect from Oxygen Therapy?
If the COPD has progressed to the point where there are low oxygen levels within the blood, this form of treatment might be recommended.
This will usually be self-administered in your home with the use of a mask or nasal tube, and it’s usually used for periods of at least 16 hours every day.
When is Surgery Used to Treat COPD?
Surgery is used as a treatment for COPD only in those instances where the condition cannot be controlled with medications.
In these instances, there are a few different surgeries that could be used, including a lung volume reduction surgery, during which the damaged section of the lungs will be removed to allow the rest to work more effectively.