There is no cure for COPD. But there are many things you can do to relieve symptoms and keep the disease from getting worse.
If you smoke, now is the time to quit. This is the best way to slow lung damage.
Medicines used to treat COPD include:
- Inhalers (bronchodilators) to help open the airways
- Inhaled or oral steroids to reduce lung inflammation
- Anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling in the airways
- Certain long-term antibiotics
In severe cases or during flare-ups, you may need to receive:
- Steroids by mouth or through a vein (intravenously)
- Bronchodilators through a nebulizer
- Oxygen therapy
- Assistance from a machine to help breathing by using a mask, BiPAP, or through the use of an endotracheal tube
Your health care provider may prescribe antibiotics during symptom flare-ups, because an infection can make COPD worse.
You may need oxygen therapy at home if you have a low level of oxygen in your blood.
Pulmonary rehabilitation does not cure COPD. But it can teach you to breathe in a different way so you can stay active and feel better.
LIVING WITH COPD
You can do things every day to keep COPD from getting worse, protect your lungs, and stay healthy.
Walk to build up strength:
- Ask the provider or therapist how far to walk.
- Slowly increase how far you walk.
- Avoid talking if you get short of breath when you walk.
- Use pursed lip breathing when you breathe out, to empty your lungs before the next breath.
Things you can do to make it easier for yourself around the home include:
- Avoid very cold air or very hot weather
- Make sure no one smokes in your home
- Reduce air pollution by not using the fireplace and getting rid of other irritants
Eat healthy foods, including fish, poultry, and lean meat, as well as fruits and vegetables. If it is hard to keep your weight up, talk to a provider or dietitian about eating foods with more calories.
Surgery may be used to treat COPD. Only a few patients benefit from these surgical treatments:
- Surgery to remove parts of the diseased lung, which can help less-diseased parts work better in some patients with emphysema
- Lung transplant for a small number of very severe cases