Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Treatment
- What It Is
- Risk Factors
- Living With
- User Questions
- Alternative Treatment
- Care Guide
- Questions for Your Doctor
- When to Contact a Doctor
- Find a Doctor
- Resource Guide
How to Treat Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
There is no treatment to cure COPD. Treatment aims to ease symptoms and improve quality of life.
Quitting smoking slows the disease. Doctors consider it the most important part of treatment. Smoking cessation programs may include behavior modification and medicines to help you quit.
Limit the number of irritants in the air you breathe. It may help make breathing easier. Avoid smoke, dust, smog, extreme heat or cold, and high altitudes.
Some may be taken by mouth. Nebulizers and inhalers deliver drugs directly to the lungs. Drugs for COPD may work in the following ways:
- Opening the airways
- Relaxing the breathing passages
- Decreasing inflammation
- Helping thin secretions and bring up mucus from the lungs
- Treating lung infections (antibiotics): If you have chronic bronchitis and mild-to-moderate COPD, you may not need antibiotics. If you do need them, a study found that shorter antibiotic treatment (five days or less) is as effective as longer treatment (more than five days).
Get vaccinated against pneumonia and the flu. The flu vaccine may reduce COPD flare-ups.
It is given to improve the air you breathe in. It increases the amount of available oxygen. This can increase energy levels and heart and brain function.
Special exercises can strengthen chest muscles and make breathing easier. Physical activity builds endurance and improves quality of life. Yoga is an example of an exercise routine that may offer benefits for people with COPD.
Follow your doctor's recommendations for activity levels and restrictions.
Breathing and Coughing Techniques
Special methods of breathing can help bring more air into and force trapped air out of the lungs. Coughing helps clear the lungs of mucus.
- Maintain a normal weight. Excess weight causes the lungs and heart to work harder.
- Eat a healthy diet that is low in saturated fat and rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods.
- Eat several small meals during the day. It makes breathing easier.
- Avoid gas-producing foods. Large meals and excess gas swell the stomach, which pushes up on the diaphragm.
- Drink fluids to keep mucus thin.
- Pace your activities.
- Learn relaxation techniques and other methods to manage stress.
- Seek emotional support from professionals, family, and friends. Anxiety can increase the rate of respiration, making breathing more strenuous.
A small number of patients may benefit from surgery.