There is no cure for COPD. However lifestyle changes and treatments can help you feel better, stay more active and slow disease progression, the goals of COPD treatment are to relieve symptoms, slow the progression of disease, improve exercise tolerance, prevent and manage complications such as flare ups and improve overall health. Patients should become informed about COPD by speaking with their doctor. Sometimes a referral to a pulmonologist or lung doctor may be required, patients who are informed about their COPD are likely to have better health outcomes.
COPD interventions may consist of lifestyle changes, medical treatments, vaccinations, oxygen therapy such as portable concentrator like the SimplyGo Mini by Philips Respironics and pulmonary rehabilitation. A small number of patients may also require selective surgical procedures.
Lifestyle changes are important, quitting smoking is vitally important and your doctor and support groups can help you quit. COPD risk increases with smoking and ranges from thirty five percent to as high as fifty percent.
Avoiding second-hand smoke and other lung irritants such as air pollution, dust and chemical fumes is also very important, getting regular exercise may also greatly benefit persons with COPD.
Medical treatment of COPD may consist of inhaled medications and oral medications. The most important medicines used to treat COPD include inhaled Broncho-dilators which patients breathe into the lungs to open up or dilate the airways or bronchi. Thus these medicines are called Broncho-dilators.
Other medicines can be used with the Broncho-dilators in special situations and they include inhaled corticosteroids, oral methylxanthines such as tyopholine or oral phosphodiesterase 4 inhibitors.
Broncho-dilators relax the muscles around the airways, allowing the airways to open up more or dilate so that you can breathe better. Most Broncho-dilators are taken with inhalers which allow the medication to go straight to your lungs. Using inhalers the right way is very important and your health care provider or pharmacist can instruct you on their correct use.
Short acting or quick relief Broncho-dilators can be prescribed as needed for trouble breathing, the portable or in -home oxygen concentrators are usually given to you if you have on-going symptoms of COPD and should be taken regularly whether or not you are having trouble breathing.
Inhaled corticosteroids when combined with one or more long acting Broncho-dilators are also used for the treatment of COPD, inhaled steroids may help to reduce inflammation in the lungs. If your COPD becomes more severe or if your symptoms flare up often, your doctor may prescribe an home concentrator for long tern use.
For COPD inhaled steroids should not be used alone without also using a long acting Broncho-dilator. Your doctor may want you to try this combination to see whether the addition of an inhaled steroids to a long acting Broncho-dilator helps to relieve your symptoms and or reduces your chances of having flare ups or exacerbations of COPD..
Another medical treatment for COPD is a class of drugs known as phosphodiesterase 4 inhibitors or PDE 4 inhibitors. If you don't have relief of symptoms or if your COPD exacerbations continue, your doctor may decide to prescribe a PDE 4 inhibitor to lower your chances of having more COPD exacerbations and improve your quality of life.
Antibiotics are also used to control bacterial lung infections in COPD, especially during acute flare ups. These drugs treat sudden infections that may arise from time to time in the course of COPD, oral corticosteroids should only be used during acute flare ups or acute exacerbations of COPD and should not be used on a routine basis. These medicines when used during an acute exacerbation of COPD help you get over the flare up faster, lower your chance of relapsing and lower your chance of having to be admitted to the hospital.
Prevention of infection is very important in persons with COPD who are at greater risk for complications from flu and pneumonia. Vaccines can help prevent illness and can help to lower chances of getting a flare up and needing hospital care. Oxygen therapy may be needed in persons with COPT. If you have severe COPD and your oxygen saturation levels are lower than normal, the use of supplemental oxygen can help you breathe better and improve your physical activity.
Oxygen has benefits to enable better sleep, provide greater exercise tolerance and lower your chances of dying from COPD.. Pulmonary rehabilitation is recommended for most people with COPD. Rehabilitation may include an exercise program, disease management training, as well as nutritional and psychological counselling. The goal is to help persons with COPD to stay healthy, carry on with daily activities, follow healthy eating habits, sleep well and better manage exacerbations of their illness.
In rare cases surgical intervention may be recommended for persons with COPD who have severe symptoms that have not improved with medical oxygen therapy. Long volume reduction surgery or LVR surgery is the removal of damaged tissue from the lungs, helping to improve breathing and quality of life but only helps a few select people with COPD.
Lung transplant patient involves replacing a damaged lung with a healthy lung from a donor. This surgery can improve your lung function and quality of life but has many risks such as infections or rejection of the transplanted lung. Your doctor can discuss the benefits and risks of this surgical option with you. Managing complications is very important for persons with COPD the symptoms of COPD may worsen over time, however they can also worsen suddenly if a cold or the flu occurs. Breathing may become difficult and you may experience chest tightness increased, coughing your sputum may change colour and you may have a fever. Call your doctor right away should this happen.
Are High Oxygen Concentrations Harmful for these Patients
If the individual has already been diagnosed with COPD, it's important to get on a good medical program to avoid respiratory irritants, to get their immunizations in a timely fashion, sometimes the physicians will suggest that they keep an antibiotic on hand because we all develop the episodic respiratory infections and it sometimes desirable for them to begin using an antibody at the first sign of worsening infection in the chest. That's an interesting question; oxygen is not harmful to any of us, we're all breathing oxygen at the concentration of about 21%, some people with COPD need a little bit higher concentration and with supplemental oxygen, either with a portable device or something at the bedside, we can raise the inspired oxygen concentration to 25 maybe 30%. In order to get a harmful concentration of oxygen, you really have to breathe more than 50% oxygen concentration for 24/48 hours or a higher levels above that. It's very difficult to do that in a patient or in an ambulatory setting. But patients who are in a hospital situation, perhaps they're intubated with a tube in their wind pipe to assist their breathing, can with the aid of a ventilatory assist device could get a higher concentration of oxygen but that's not likely to happen to anybody who's not in intensive care unit.
COPD and Oxygen Concentrators
Listen to Karen's inspiring story about how an portable oxygen concentrator can make living with COPD or emphysema more manageable. Hear how she still completes everyday tasks and even travels on a plane with her portable oxygen concentrator.
I went back for a follow up, actually that was the day he said I’m putting you on oxygen. I’m putting on oxygen at night and for exertion. I thought boy, “I quit smoking, I did all the right things and here I am still needing oxygen.”
And I was mad, I was upset, I had the vision of somebody in a hospital bed, hooked up to oxygen 24/7, unable to do anything, but lie in a bed. And that vision was scary and so I’m glad that my vision was not correct.
Oxygen concentrators make a lot of noise. They go, “wosh-wosh-wosh-wosh,” and I couldn’t sleep with it in the bedroom. So we ended up moving it to a corner of the living room and I run the tubing all the way around, back into the hallway, back into the bedroom and that way the noise isn’t as obnoxious.
And then when I first started sleeping with it, I would end up with it wrapped around my neck. I found out how to stop that, which is just take a big (kind of like a) diaper pin and thread the tubing, not poke it but pin it to your pyjamas or nighty and then run the tubing through the pin opening.
And it holds it steady and also run it up from behind the bed rather than beside the bed. I learned through the support group; I used to get…
My concentrator has a humidifier bottle on it because my nose would get very-very dry but then the next thing that happened was I was getting water up in my nose in the middle of the night and that wasn’t so great. So I remember sitting down one time saying, “does this happen anybody else? What do you do?”
And I got back several responses saying, “you need a water-track.” When I first realized I had to have oxygen to travel because at high altitude, I de-saturate very badly. I thought “oh my gosh, I’m done, I’m not going to be able to fly anymore, I’m not going to be able to travel to see the kids.”
Even in a hotel room you need…
Well, you can arrange with your oxygen company to have a big concentrator there. So anyway I started checking into it and “no,” your life traveling in airlines/airplanes is not over. And there’s a lot of good resources online, there’s a lot of good companies, there’s a lot of people who will give you suggestions, not everyone works for everybody again. It’s all very personal what we want but the choices are out there and I can fly to Atlanta to see my grandkids.