COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) - Overview
If there is a chance you could have COPD, it is very
important to find out as soon as you can. This gives you time to take steps to
slow the damage to your lungs.
How is it treated?
The best way to slow COPD is to
quit smoking. This is the most important thing you can do. It is never too late
to quit. No matter how long you have smoked or how serious your COPD is,
quitting smoking can help stop the damage to your lungs.
to quit smoking. Talk to your doctor about treatments that can help. You will
double your chances of quitting even if medicine is the
only treatment you use to quit, but your odds get even better when you combine
medicine and other quit strategies, such as counseling.1 To learn more about how to quit, go to www.smokefree.gov, or
call 1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669).
Your doctor can prescribe
treatments that may help you manage your symptoms and feel better.
- Medicines can help you breathe easier. Most of them are inhaled
so they go straight to your lungs. If you get an inhaler, it is very important
to use it just the way your doctor shows you.
- A lung (pulmonary) rehab program can help you learn to manage
your disease. A team of health professionals can provide counseling and teach
you how to breathe easier, exercise, and eat well.
- In time, you may need to use
oxygen some or most of the time.
People who have COPD are more likely to get lung
infections, so you will need to get a
flu vaccine every year. You should also get a
pneumococcal shot. It may not keep you from getting
pneumonia. But if you do get pneumonia, you probably will not be as
There are many things you can do at home to stay as healthy
as you can.
- Avoid things that can irritate your lungs, such as smoke,
pollution, and air that is cold and dry.
- Use an air conditioner or air filter in your home.
- Take rest breaks during the day.
- Get regular exercise to stay as strong as you can.
- Eat well so you can keep up your strength. If you are losing
weight, ask your doctor or
dietitian about ways to make it easier to get the
calories you need.
What else should you think about?
Flare-ups: As COPD gets worse, you may have flare-ups when
your symptoms quickly get worse and stay worse. It is important to know what to
do if this happens. Your doctor can prescribe medicines to help. But if the
attack is severe, you may need to go to the emergency room or call