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
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 during breathing from a machine (through a mask, BiPAP, or endotracheal tube)
Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics during symptom flare-ups, because infections 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.
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 doctor or therapist how far to walk.
- Slowly increase how far you walk.
- Try not to talk when you walk if you get short of breath.
- 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
- Make sure no one smokes in your home
- Reduce air pollution by getting rid of fireplace smoke and other irritants
Eat healthy foods, including fish, poultry, or lean meat, as well as fruits and vegetables. If it is hard to keep your weight up, talk to a doctor or dietitian about eating foods with more calories.
Surgery may be used to treat COPD, but 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 very severe cases