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What are the Best Tips for COPD Management?

S. Waddell
S. Waddell

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD, is an irreversible lung disease. In the U.S., it is something of an umbrella that includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It is considered a progressive disease, which means it gets worse over time. COPD management is crucial to improving the quality of life for someone suffering with this disease. This is done with medication and lifestyle adjustments.

COPD occurs when the airflow is reduced in and out of the airways in the lungs. This can be caused by the destruction of the walls between many of the air sacs. This leads to the loss of elasticity in the airways and air sacs, as in emphysema. It is also possible that the airways have become thick, inflamed and clogged with mucus, as in chronic bronchitis.

Smoking is a major risk factor for COPD.
Smoking is a major risk factor for COPD.

The disease is incurable, making COPD management critical. It is important to slow down the progression of the disease. Quitting smoking is the No. 1 way to prevent or slow the development of COPD. Cigarette smoking is responsible for 90 percent of all cases of COPD. Second-hand smoke should also be avoided.

COPD management relies in part on medications to relieve the symptoms. Bronchodilators help relax the muscles around the airways in the lungs, so breathing is easier. They are taken using an inhaler, which is a device that gets the medicine directly to the lungs.

Flu shots are a good idea for COPD management. The flu can affect people with COPD much more seriously than it does others. Pneumonia is also a high risk for people with COPD, so a pneumococcal vaccine is recommended as protection.

Reduced airflow in and out of the lungs results in COPD.
Reduced airflow in and out of the lungs results in COPD.

Pulmonary rehabilitation is an exercise program that helps improve the health of people with lung problems. It may include nutritional counseling and COPD management training. It is designed to help people remain active and continue with daily activities.

Oxygen therapy is also helpful for some with COPD. Oxygen is taken in through nasal prongs or a mask. Continuous oxygen use significantly decreases the mortality rate and relieves symptoms. It can protect the heart and other organs from damage. It can also help people sleep better at night, making them more alert during the day.

Surgery is used for COPD management in rare cases for people with severe symptoms. In lung volume reduction surgery, tissue is removed from the damaged lungs. Its intent is to improve the breathing of the patient.

A lung transplant may improve the quality of life for some with COPD, though it does carry a high risk. There are many complications, such as infection and even death resulting from the rejection of the transplanted lung. A COPD sufferer's doctor can help decide if the risks of such surgery are worth the benefits.

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    • Smoking is a major risk factor for COPD.
      By: Denys Rudyi
      Smoking is a major risk factor for COPD.
    • Reduced airflow in and out of the lungs results in COPD.
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      Reduced airflow in and out of the lungs results in COPD.