While there is no known cure for COPD yet, treatment plans have been devised to slow the progression of the disease and help maintain a more active life by relieving symptoms.

Healthy Lifestyle

The most crucial treatment is smoking cessation for those patients that still smoke, as this is the single worst culprit of COPD. There are many smoking cessation programs and medications.

Flare-ups of COPD symptoms are often associated with infections (viral and bacterial), as well as air pollutants. Any worsening of symptoms markedly increases a patient’s risk of death.

Vaccinations are also an important preventative measure. Patients with COPD should receive the following:

  • Flu shot
  • Pneumococcal (pneumonia) shot

Not to be overlooked is the impact lifestyle changes can have. Patients with COPD may want to seek out professionals to help them with the following:

  • Exercise plan
  • Nutritional advice
  • Psychological counseling
  • COPD management training

These programs help the COPD patient adjust to their condition and enable them to improve the quality of life.

Medical Treatments

Medical intervention is often needed to treat patients with COPD. Treatment is specific to each individual. Side effects and warnings must be taken into consideration before beginning any medication. Common medications for COPD include the following:

Bronchodilator

  • Opens airways by relaxing surrounding muscles
  • Used with inhaler
  • Comes in both a short-acting (4-6 hours) and long-acting (12 hours) form

Glucorticosteroid (steroid)

  • Reduces airway inflammation
  • Long-term dosage or increased amounts have not shown increased benefit
  • Methylprednisolone 40 mg/day X 10 days
  • Decreases length of hospital stay

Oxygen

  • Increases the level of oxygen in the blood
  • Prevents right-sided heart failure
  • Typically given in Stage 4/Severe Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease cases. Oxygen comes with a portable delivery system, which may include the following:
    • Oxygen-gas cylinder
    • Oxygen concentrators (electrically driven to concentrate oxygen in air)
    • Liquid-oxygen devices
  • Used with nasal cannula or face mask
  • Abnormal tissue is removed so that remaining lung portions can work more efficiently
  • Gives relief to severe cases who had no relief from other treatments
  • Removal of damaged lung tissue through a bullectomy (removal of abnormally large air sacs) or a lung transplant

Surgery

  • Abnormal tissue is removed so that remaining lung portions can work more efficiently
  • Gives relief to severe cases who had no relief from other treatments
  • Removal of damaged lung tissue through a bullectomy (removal of abnormally large air sacs) or a lung transplant