The Ultimate Guide to COPD Treatment Options

The Ultimate Guide to COPD Treatment Options
Closeup portrait, old gentleman in white shirt with towel, coughing and holding stomach, isolated green trees and shrubs, outside outdoors background

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one of the most common respiratory diseases in the world. In the United States alone, it affects nearly 16 million individuals.

Left untreated, it can lead to heart problems and respiratory infections. Not only that, but it can also increase your risk of lung cancer.

While there’s no cure, there are steps that you can take to manage your symptoms, which can improve your quality of life.

What are the different COPD treatment options? Which medications should you take?

Find out all of the answers (and more) by reading the rest of the post!

1. Bronchodilators 

Bronchodilators are a class of medication that makes breathing easier by relaxing the muscles in the airway. There are two types—beta-2 agonists and anticholinergics (e.g. Spiriva 18mcg), both of which are available in short-acting and long-acting forms.

The former is used to improve breathing during a flare-up while the latter is used twice a day for COPD management.

While these medications are usually inhaled using a small handheld inhaler, they’re also available as injections and nebulizers for sudden, severe symptoms.

Some common side effects include a dry mouth, trembling of the hands, headache, and muscle cramps.

2. Corticosteroids 

Corticosteroids work by reducing irritation and swelling in the airway. They’re particularly effective if you’ve been exposed to an irritant such as secondhand smoke.

And they come in many forms. For example, you can get them as an inhaler, nebulizer, tablet, or injection. It’s worth noting, however, that the tablet form can lead to unpleasant side effects such as weight gain, mood swings, swelling of the hands and feet, and elevated blood sugar levels.

Inhaled corticosteroids, on the other hand, tend to cause fewer side effects, which makes them more suitable for those with COPD. They may also be used in combination with short or long-acting bronchodilators.

3. Oxygen Therapy 

Oxygen therapy may be necessary if you’re not getting enough oxygen in your blood. Also known as supplemental oxygen, it involves breathing in oxygen through a nasal mask, which goes into a small mechanical device through a tube.

Not only will it help you breathe easier, but it can also help you live longer by protecting your organs from further damage caused by oxygen deprivation. It’ll also improve your sleep, which will help you feel more alert during the day.

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your doctor may suggest that you use it all the time, while you’re sleeping, or during specific activities.

Understanding the Different COPD Treatment Options

There are several COPD treatment options, from bronchodilators to oxygen therapy, all of which can help manage the disease. For those who are experiencing symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider—they’ll be able to go over your COPD management options.

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