Your diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) doesn’t have to be a death sentence of sorts. Your doctor will even say that, indeed, COPD is a treatable lung disease although vigilance in daily treatment and prevention of symptoms is a must. You can even achieve a good quality of life including good control over your symptoms with a combination of treatments.
Of course, you have to discuss the pros and cons of each treatment option with your doctor. Your treatment plan will also be customized according to your age, physical condition, underlying illnesses, and treatment goals. You must communicate well with your doctor, too, about your reactions to the medications.
Here are the ways that you can effectively cope with your COPD condition.
If smoking tobacco products was at the root of your COPD, you should stop smoking now. Otherwise, your symptoms will get worse and your ability to breathe normally will be adversely affected soon. You can talk to your doctor about smoking cessation products, such as nicotine patches, and effective withdrawal strategies.
You must also avoid exposure to secondhand, even third-hand, tobacco smoke. In our world, you can’t avoid tobacco smoke 100% but it pays to be conscious about your exposure.
Take Your Medications
Your doctor will also prescribe a combination of medications to decrease the severity, frequency and duration of your COPD symptoms. You should follow the dosage recommended, particularly the dose and duration, since it’s crucial in managing your symptoms. You must discuss any change in dosage with your doctor, too.
The common medications prescribed for COPD management include:
- Bronchodilators are recommended mainly to ease breathing since these relax the muscles surrounding the airways. These medications also provide relief from shortness of breath and coughing.
- Inhaled steroids are formulated to reduce the inflammation in airways and prevent worsening of symptoms. But these are only recommended for patients with frequent COPD attacks because of the side effects including oral infections, bruising, and hoarseness.
Oral steroids may also be prescribed, especially for patients with moderate to severe acute attacks. These are only used for short-term therapy because of the increased risks of diabetes, cataracts, and weight gain.
- Combination inhalers are a mix of inhaled steroids and bronchodilators, thus, their double impact. Advair (fluticasone) and Symbicort (budesonide) are examples of these medications.
Other medications include phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitors, which relax the airways and decrease their inflammation; theophylline, which can improve breathing; and antibiotics, which are useful in fighting infections like pneumonia.
Your doctor will also recommend coping strategies, perhaps even surgery, for your condition. Whatever your treatment plan, you have to follow it so that you can enjoy a good life even when COPD strikes now and then.