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The Basics of COPD Management

Desmond | Lead Clinician

Mar-04-2022 | Physiology

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The diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which comprises chronic obstructive bronchitis and emphysema, poses a lot of questions with answers which may not be clear at first. Not all people with COPD show the same symptoms and as such, management may differ from person to person. 

There is a wide range of treatment options for COPD and there is no best medicine for all people. The good thing is, your doctor will always work with you to set up the best plan to help address your concerns. Treatment is tailored at making you breathe better, do more of the things you enjoy, and develop fewer flare-ups or exacerbations. 

Smoking cessation, inhaled bronchodilators and/or corticosteroids, supportive care (eg. pulmonary rehabilitation, oxygen therapy) seem to be the primary management for COPD. 

Smoking cessation remains the most critical in the treatment of COPD. This is not a very easy thing to do as the habit may have been built over a long period of years. There is, however, available replacement therapy which has been proven to reduce the cravings of nicotine and eventually a successful cessation. 

The use of bronchodilators and corticosteroids aims to prevent exacerbations and improve lung and physical function. Symptoms are rapidly relieved primarily with short-acting beta-adrenergic drugs and exacerbations are reduced with inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta-adrenergic drugs. 

Pulmonary rehabilitation includes structured and supervised exercise training, nutrition counseling, and self-management education. Oxygen therapy is however indicated for a selected few. 

Finally, there is what is known as complementary therapy. These are philosophies and practices, that may not be considered conventional or standard, these include massages, acupuncture, yoga, etc. These techniques cannot treat COPD but may be able to improve symptoms and overall quality of life. 

Note: This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice, or as the substitute for the medical advice of a physician.