The treatment of COPD is continuously evolving. Research has led to new medications that can greatly improve quality of life and help people reduce symptoms so they can continue to enjoy daily activities. Your physician will prescribe medications that align with the severity and symptoms being experienced. Common medications include bronchodilators (to open airways) and corticosteroids (to reduce swelling). Some medications include a mixture of both bronchodilators and corticosteroids.
Some health care provider may give you an action plan to follow to manage symptoms. This is a way to adjust medication amounts based on symptoms to feel your best. Other ways to manage symptoms is trigger avoidance. Often common triggers such as strong smells, pollution, smoke, cold air can cause worsening symptoms. Learning to avoid these triggers or manage these situations can reduce further irritation.
The treatment of asthma is based on controlling the symptoms. This includes:
Pulmonary Rehabilitation has been widely identified as the most effective therapeutic strategy to improve shortness of breath and improve exercise tolerance and is suitable for most COPD patients. Pulmonary Rehab may consist of 2 classes a week for 8-12 weeks or 3 classes a week for 6 weeks (can vary among rehabs). Combining exercise, education and teaching self-management are all key components while in a Pulmonary Rehabilitation program. Arming you with the knowledge of your disease, how to best manage it and identify “red flags” or “flare ups” will ultimately result less hospitalizations and emergency room visits.
Smoking cessation is very important in anyone diagnosed with COPD. It will help slow the progression of the disease and can dramatically reduce symptoms. There are many programs and aids to help in the process. Speaking to health care professionals about the options available is a great first step!
Palliative Care is a broad term that encompasses symptom control, help in decision making about end of life care, and providing emotional and spiritual support to both patients and their families. The goal of Palliative care is to prevent and relieve suffering while helping to provide the best quality of life to both patients and their families.