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COPD Treatments: Improving Your Quality of Life

COPD Treatment: Taking Medications continued...

Examples of bronchodilators used as COPD treatment include:

  • Anticholinergic bronchodilators block acetylcholine, a chemical "messenger" that makes airways constrict. They may help you breathe easier and lower the number of acute episodes you have. They may be short-acting (used 4 times a day) or long-acting (used once daily).
  • Short-acting beta-agonists is a COPD treatment you may use if you have symptoms every once in a while, such as while exercising. They are used as needed for treatment of symptoms. They may also prevent a full-fledged attack when you feel shortness of breath coming on. Long-acting beta-agonists are available for twice daily use. You may still need to use a short-acting beta-agonist as a "rescue" therapy to quickly control a sudden attack.
  • Methylxanthines may be helpful for people who have trouble with inhaled medications. That's because you can take them orally. However, this medication is used less often than in the past due to its side effects. Methylxanthines are tried in instances when, despite treatment optimization, symptoms still persist.

Corticosteroids. These medications may help reduce airway inflammation. Inhaled corticosteroids are mainly used in those whose symptoms are not well controlled with bronchodilators only. That's because they work less well for COPD than they do for other lung problems such as asthma.

Daliresp. This is a pill that's part of a new class of COPD treatment -- it's an inhibitor of an enzyme called phosphodiesterase type 4 (PDE-4). Daliresp  prevents COPD flares in people whose condition is associated with chronic bronchitis. The drug is not intended for other types of COPD.  

Antibiotics. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat a bacterial infection in your respiratory tract, such as sinusitis, acute bronchitis, or pneumonia.

COPD Treatment: Using Oxygen Treatment

If you have severe COPD, you may have low levels of oxygen in your blood. This means your body doesn't get enough oxygen on its own. Your doctor may recommend oxygen treatment to protect your organs, enhance your sleep, improve your daily activity, and help you live longer.

Oxygen is often stored in a portable tank that you can take with you. You may receive the oxygen through a flexible nasal tube or face mask. Or you can buy an oxygen concentrator, which can extract oxygen from room air. Oxygen concentrators are cheaper than having compressed oxygen delivered.

COPD Treatment: Having Surgery

If you have severe COPD with significant lung damage, you may need surgery, especially if you have severe symptoms, can't control your COPD with medications, or have trouble breathing most of the time. Surgery may involve:

  • Bullectomy to remove enlarged air spaces that interfere with breathing. They sometimes form when walls of air sacs break.
  • Lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS) to remove sections of damaged lung tissue.
  • Lung transplant to replace a diseased lung with a healthy donor lung. This is only done in very severe cases of COPD.

 

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by James E. Gerace, MD on July 02, 2013

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