Treatments for COPD
Treatments for COPD:
The goal of treatment for COPD is to control symptoms to a degree that allows people with the disease to breathe easier and live as normally and actively as possible for as long as possible.
The key treatment and prevention for COPD is to quit smoking. It is also important to eliminate or minimize exposure to potential lung irritants that can lead to or worsen COPD. These include air pollution, chemical fumes, and dust. Following manufacturer's directions for the safe use of chemicals, including wearing appropriate masks, is vital.
COPD is also treated with medications, including bronchodilators and corticosteroids, which are inhaled into the lungs using a device called an inhaler. Bronchodilators help to relax and open up the lower airways in the lungs and corticosteroids reduce airway inflammation.
Moderate to severe COPD, which results in low levels of oxygen in your blood, may also be treated with oxygen therapy, in which extra oxygen is administered through nasal prongs or a mask. Supplemental oxygen can help relieve the shortness of breath and ensure that the vital organs, such as the heart and the brain, get enough oxygen. Concentrations of oxygen and the types of devices used vary depending on the severity of an individual's condition.
Pulmonary rehabilitation is another form of treatment. It can involve a medically supervised exercise program, disease management training, and nutritional and psychological counselling to help improve overall health and quality of life. There are also a variety of surgeries, including lung transplant that may be considered in severe cases.
It is also vital to prevent common diseases that can seriously complicate COPD and become life threatening. These include influenza and pneumonia, which may be prevented with vaccines or treated with antibiotics.
There is no cure for COPD, and the permanent damage done to the airways in the lungs by smoke or other irritants is not reversible. With regular medical care and consistent patient compliance with treatments and lifestyle changes, the symptoms of COPD can be minimized and progression of the disease can be slowed. The treatment goal for people living with COPD is to control symptoms to a degree that allows them to feel better and live as normally and actively as possible for as long as possible and to sleep comfortably.
It is also vital to prevent common diseases that can seriously complicate COPD and become life threatening. These include influenza and pneumonia, which may be prevented with vaccines or treated with antibiotics, as appropriate to your case. In conjunction with your professional health care provider, you will develop an individualized treatment plan that best fits your type and severity of COPD and your life style. The most effect treatment plans include a multifaceted approach. This includes preventive care, which is vital in minimizing the symptoms and exacerbations (episodes of worsening) of COPD.
The key treatment and prevention for COPD is to quit smoking. Your health care provider can make suggestions and referrals to smoking cessation techniques and programs. It is also important to asses and eliminate or minimize exposure to potential lung irritants that can also result in the development of COPD. These include air pollution, chemical fumes, dust. Following manufacturer's directions for the safe use of chemicals, including wearing appropriate masks, is vital.
COPD is also treated with medications. After a complete evaluation, your health care provider will decide what medication or combination of medications will work best for you. Prescribed medications may include short-acting or long-acting bronchodilators that are breathed into the lungs directly taken using a device called an inhaler. Bronchodilators help to relax the lower airways in the lungs and open them up to let in more oxygen. Corticosteroids are another class of medications that can be inhaled. They work by reducing airway inflammation.
Moderate to severe COPD, which results in low levels of oxygen in your blood, may also be treated with oxygen therapy, in which extra oxygen (supplemental oxygen) is given for you to breathe through nasal prongs or a mask. Supplemental oxygen can help relieve the shortness of breath and ensure that the vital organs, such as the heart and the brain, get enough oxygen. Concentrations of oxygen and the types of devices used vary depending on the severity of your condition. Your individual condition will also dictate if you will need oxygen at all times or only during certain activities. For example, some people with COPD find they only need supplemental oxygen when there is a high ozone alert (a lot of pollution in the air/poor air quality). Other people may need supplemental oxygen when they travel to the mountains, because areas in high altitudes have less oxygen in the air. Other people with COPD may need supplemental oxygen when participating in activities or to help them sleep better.
Pulmonary rehabilitation is another form of treatment. It can involve a medically supervised exercise program, disease management training, and nutritional and psychological counseling to help improve overall health and quality of life. There are also a variety of surgeries, including lung transplant that may be considered in severe cases.
Treatment List for COPD
The list of treatments mentioned in various sources
includes the following list.
Always seek professional medical advice about any treatment
or change in treatment plans.
- Quit smoking
- Home oxygen therapy
- Corticosteroids or steroids - reduce airway swelling and inflammation.
- Antibiotics - against lung infections.
- Expectorants - loosen mucus
- Diuretics - usually for patients with right-heart failure; diuretics get rid of body fluid reducing the risk of fluid in the lungs.
- Digitalis (digoxin) - improves the heart-beat, but can be a risky drug to take.
- Pain killers
- Cough suppressants - e.g. codeine
- Sleeping pills - barbiturates
- Pulmonary rehabilitation programs
- Treatments for clearance and drainage of airway passages
- Postural bronchial drainage
- Chest percussion
- Controlled coughing
- Bland aerosols
- Drink fluids - helps the mucus have enough fluid to drain.
- Healthy diet
- Avoid conditions that exacerbate symptoms
- Quit smoking - by far the most important action.
- Avoid cigarette smoke
- Avoid fumes
- Avoid dust
- Avoid air pollution
- Avoid colds and flus
- Avoid flying in aeroplanes - many COPD patients need oxygen to fly.
- Avoid excessive heat
- Avoid excessive cold
- Avoid very high altitudes
- Allergy shots
- Control allergies or asthma
COPD: Is the Diagnosis Correct?
The first step in getting correct treatment is
to get a correct diagnosis.
Differential diagnosis list for COPD may include:
Hidden causes of COPD may be incorrectly diagnosed:
COPD: Marketplace Products, Discounts & Offers
Products, offers and promotion categories available for COPD:
Curable Types of COPD
Possibly curable types of COPD may include:
COPD: Research Doctors & Specialists
- Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists:
- Lung Health Specialists (Pulmonologist):
- Senior Health Specialists (Geriatrics):
- more specialists...»
Research all specialists including ratings, affiliations, and sanctions.
Drugs and Medications used to treat COPD:
Note:You must always seek professional medical advice about any prescription drug, OTC drug, medication, treatment
or change in treatment plans.
Some of the different medications used in the treatment of COPD include:
- Foradil Aerolizer
- Atrovent Nasal Spray
- Ipratropium Novaplus
- Advair Diskus
- Serevent Diskus
- Bronchial Gelatin Capsule
- Bronkaid Tablets
- Isuprel Compound
- Lodrane CR
- Marax DF
- Mudrane GG Elixir
- PMS Theophylline
- Quibron Plus
- Quibron-T Dividose
- Slo-Bid Gyrocaps
- Slo-Phyllin GG
- Slo-Phyllin Gyrocaps
- Tedral SA
- Theobid Duracaps
- Theoclear L.A
- Theo-Dur Sprinkle
- Theomax DF
- Ventolin HFA
- VoSpire ER
- Ventolin Diskus
- Salbulin Autohaler
- Oxeze Turbuhaler
Unlabeled Drugs and Medications to treat COPD:
Unlabelled alternative drug treatments for COPD include:
- Alor 5/500
- Anexsia 7.5
- Biohisdex DHC
- Biohisdine DHC
- DHC Plus
- Dimetane Expectorant-DC
- Histussin HC
- Hycomine Compound
- Hycomine Pediatric Syrup
- Hycomine Syrup
- Hycotuss Expectorant
- Lorcet Plus
- Lortab ASA
- Medipain 5
- Norcet 7
- Novahistex DH
- Novahistine DH
- Triaminic Expectorant DH
- Tussaminic Expectorant DH
- Tussend Expectorant
- Vicodin ES
- Enpak Refill
- Mar-Pred 40
- Medrol Acne Lotion
- Medrol Enpak
- Medrol Veriderm Cream
- Neo-Medrol Acne Lotion
- Neo-Medrol Veriderm
- Rep-Pred 80
Latest treatments for COPD:
The following are some of the latest treatments for COPD:
Hospital statistics for COPD:
These medical statistics relate to hospitals, hospitalization and COPD:
- 1.8% (229,725) of hospital episodes were for chronic lower respiratory diseases in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
- 72% of hospital consultations for chronic lower respiratory diseases required hospital admission in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
- 49% of hospital episodes for chronic lower respiratory diseases were for men in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
- 51% of hospital episodes for chronic lower respiratory diseases were for women in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
- 92% of hospital admissions for chronic lower respiratory diseases required emergency hospital admission in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
- more hospital information...»
Hospitals & Medical Clinics: COPD
Research quality ratings and patient incidents/safety measures
for hospitals and medical facilities in specialties related to COPD:
Hospital & Clinic quality ratings »
Choosing the Best Treatment Hospital:
More general information, not necessarily in relation to COPD,
on hospital and medical facility performance and surgical care quality:
Medical news summaries about treatments for COPD:
The following medical news items
are relevant to treatment of COPD:
Discussion of treatments for COPD:
COPD: How Can Patients Cope Best: NHLBI (Excerpt)
Patients with COPD can help themselves in many ways. They can:
- Stop smoking. Many programs are available to help smokers quit smoking and
to stay off tobacco. Some programs are based on behavior modification
techniques; others combine these methods with nicotine gum or nicotine patches
as aids to help smokers gradually overcome their dependence on nicotine.
- Avoid work-related exposures to dusts and fumes.
- Avoid air pollution, including cigarette smoke, and curtail physical
activities during air pollution alerts.
- Refrain from intimate contact with people who have respiratory infections
such as colds or the flu and get a one-time pneumonia vaccination (polyvalent
pneumococcal vaccination) and yearly influenza shots.
- Avoid excessive heat, cold, and very high altitudes. (Note: Commercial
aircraft cruise at high altitudes and maintain a cabin pressure equal to that
of an elevation of 5,000 to 10,000 feet. This can result in hypoxemia for some
COPD patients. However, with supplemental oxygen, most COPD patients can
travel on commercial airlines.)
- Drink a lot of fluids. This is a good way to keep sputum loose so that it
can be brought up by coughing.
- Maintain good nutrition. Usually a high protein diet, taken as many small
feedings, is recommended.
- Consider "allergy shots." COPD patients often also have allergies or
asthma which complicate COPD.
(Source: excerpt from COPD: How Can Patients Cope Best: NHLBI
COPD Treatment: NHLBI (Excerpt)
If the patient and medical team develop and adhere to a program of complete
respiratory care, disability can be minimized, acute episodes prevented,
hospitalizations reduced, and some early deaths avoided. On the other hand, none
of the therapies has been shown to slow the progression of the disease, and only
oxygen therapy has been shown to increase the survival rate.
(Source: excerpt from COPD Treatment: NHLBI)
COPD Treatment: NHLBI (Excerpt)
Home oxygen therapy can improve survival in patients with advanced
COPD who have hypoxemia, low blood oxygen levels. This treatment can
improve a patient's exercise tolerance and ability to perform on psychological
tests which reflect different aspects of brain function and muscle coordination.
Increasing the concentration of oxygen in blood also improves the function of
the heart and prevents the development of cor pulmonale. Oxygen can also lessen
sleeplessness, irritability, headaches, and the overproduction of red blood
cells. Continuous oxygen therapy is recommended for patients with low oxygen
levels at rest, during exercise, or while sleeping. Many oxygen sources are
available for home use; these include tanks of compressed gaseous oxygen or
liquid oxygen and devices that concentrate oxygen from room air. However, oxygen
is expensive with the cost per patient running into several hundred dollars per
month, depending on the type of system and on the locale.
Medications frequently prescribed for COPD patients include:
- Bronchodilators help open narrowed airways. There are three main
categories: sympathomimetics (isoproterenol, metaproterenol, terbutaline,
albuterol) which can be inhaled, injected, or taken by mouth;
parasympathomimetics (atropine, ipratropium bromide); and methylxanthines
(theophylline and its derivatives) which can be given intravenously, orally,
- Corticosteroids or steroids (beclomethasone, dexamethasone,
triamcinolone, flunisolide) lessen inflammation of the airway walls. They are
sometimes used if airway obstruction cannot be kept under control with
bronchodilators, and lung function is shown to improve on this therapy.
Inhaled steroids given regularly may be of benefit in some patients and have
few side effects.
- Antibiotics (tetracycline, ampicillin, erythromycin, and
trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole combinations) fight infection. They are
frequently given at the first sign of a respiratory infection such as
increased sputum production with a change in color of sputum from clear to
yellow or green.
- Expectorants help loosen and expel mucus secretions from the airways.
- Diuretics help the body excrete excess fluid. They are given as
therapy to avoid excess water retention associated with right-heart failure.
Patients taking diuretics are monitored carefully because dehydration must be
avoided. These drugs also may cause potassium imbalances which can lead to
abnormal heart rhythms.
- Digitalis (usually in the form of digoxin) strengthens the force
of the heartbeat. It is used very cautiously in patients who have COPD,
especially if their blood oxygen tensions are low, because they are vulnerable
to abnormal heart rhythms when taking this drug.
- Other drugs sometimes taken by patients with COPD are
tranquilizers, pain killers (meperidine, morphine, propoxyphene, etc.), cough
suppressants (codeine, etc.), and sleeping pills (barbiturates, etc.). All
these drugs depress breathing to some extent; they are avoided whenever
possible and used only with great caution.
A number of combination drugs containing various assortments of
sympathomimetics, methylxanthines, expectorants, and sedatives are marketed and
widely advertised. These drugs are undesirable for COPD patients for several
reasons. It is difficult to adjust the dose of methylxanthines without getting
interfering side effects from the other ingredients. The sympathomimetic drug
used in these preparations is ephedrine, a drug with many side effects and less
bronchodilating effect than other drugs now available. The combination drugs
often contain sedatives to combat the unpleasant side effects of ephedrine. They
also contain expectorants which have not been proven to be effective for all
patients and may have some side effects.
Bullectomy, or surgical removal of large air spaces called bullae
that are filled with stagnant air, may be beneficial in selected patients.
Recently, use of lasers to remove bullae has been suggested.
Lung transplantation has been successfully employed in some patients
with end-stage COPD. In the hands of an experienced team, the 1-year survival in
patients with transplanted lungs is over 70 percent.
Pulmonary rehabilitation programs, along with medical treatment, are
useful in certain patients with COPD. The goals are to improve overall physical
endurance and generally help to overcome the conditions which cause dyspnea and
limit capacity for physical exercise and activities of daily living. General
exercise training increases performance, maximum oxygen consumption, and overall
sense of well-being. Administration of oxygen and nutritional supplements when
necessary can improve respiratory muscle strength. Intermittent mechanical
ventilatory support relieves dyspnea and rests respiratory muscles in selected
patients. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is used as an adjunct to
weaning from mechanical ventilation to minimize dyspnea during exercise.
Relaxation techniques may also reduce the perception of ventilatory effort and
dyspnea. Breathing exercises and breathing techniques, such as pursed lips
breathing and relaxation, improve functional status.
Keeping air passages reasonably clear of secretions is difficult for
patients with advanced COPD. Some commonly used methods for mobilizing and
removing secretions are the following:
- Postural bronchial drainage helps to remove secretions from the
airways. The patient lies in prescribed positions that allow gravity to drain
different parts of the lung. This is usually done after inhaling an aerosol.
In the basic position, the patient lies on a bed with his chest and head over
the side and his forearms resting on the floor.
- Chest percussion or lightly clapping the chest and back, may help
dislodge tenacious or copious secretions.
- Controlled coughing techniques are taught to help the patient
bring up secretions.
- Bland aerosols, often made from solutions of salt or bicarbonate
of soda, are inhaled. These aerosols thin and loosen secretions. Treatments
usually last 10 to 15 minutes and are taken three or four times a day.
Bronchodilators are sometimes added to the aerosols.
(Source: excerpt from COPD Treatment: NHLBI
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