What are the Different Types of COPD Medications?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) medications include bronchodilators, steroids and antibiotics. COPD damages lungs, restricts the ability to breathe efficiently, and eventually leads to death. Some of the symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness.
Two lung conditions, emphysema and chronic bronchitis, make up the diagnosis of COPD. Emphysema leads to both inflammation of the alveoli of the lungs and the collapse of the airways upon exhalation of air. Chronic bronchitis leads to a narrowing of the bronchial tubes. This occurs because of inflammation from constant coughing and blockage due to an increase in mucus production. Both conditions are chronic.
Long-term smoking leads the list of causes of COPD, but other causes need to be considered. Those who don’t smoke may develop COPD as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke. Other possible causes include air pollution and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
The symptoms of COPD typically begin to appear once significant damage has been done to the lungs. Those suffering from COPD caused by emphysema will experience shortness of breath, chest tightness, and wheezing. Chronic bronchitis symptoms include chronic cough, respiratory infection, and the production of yellowish phlegm.
Smoking cessation is the number one recommendation for those diagnosed with COPD. This can help relieve symptoms as well as slow progression of the disease. For those who continue to smoke and for those who quit smoking, COPD medications may be needed to help relieve symptoms and treat any exacerbating conditions, such as respiratory infections.
One of the common COPD medications are bronchodilators. Bronchodilators help to make breathing easier by relaxing the muscles of the airways and also relieving cough associated with COPD. Typically, bronchodilators come in an inhaler and can be used in several ways. Short-acting bronchodilators are prescribed for use before activity. Long-acting bronchodilators are used every day as part of a treatment regimen.
Those diagnosed with COPD considered to be severe or moderate may be prescribed corticosteroid COPD medications. Also delivered via an inhaler, corticosteroids reduce inflammation of the airway. Long-term use of these medications can cause additional damage, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, and is not recommended.
Other COPD medications and treatment options include antibiotics, oxygen and surgery. Antibiotics can help treat infections which can make COPD symptoms worse. Oxygen can help improve the amount of oxygen in blood. This can improve heart function and allow for those with COPD to participate in life’s various activities. Surgery, such as a lung transplant, is reserved for severe cases that can be helped by surgery and meet specific criteria.
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