It is scientifically proven: smoking is the main cause for developing COPD. About 90% of those affected are or have been smokers. This is why giving up smoking is the first and most important step for all COPD patients.
Further COPD treatment depends on the severity of the disease and has various objectives. First and foremost is to control the symptoms, avoid complications, reduce the frequency of attacks and slow down the progression of the disease. Improving lung function and physical performance to improve quality of life is also very important. We categorise therapies either as drug or as non-drug therapies.
There are effective inhaled medications available to expand the bronchial tubes that are in the form of sprays, powders or inhalation solutions, for example, for use with PARI nebulisers.
If there is severe inflammation, medications containing cortisone (corticoids) may be used; antibiotics are used for bacterial infections.
Expectorants are often used for acute infections where there is increased mucus production.
Respiratory physiotherapy is an important complement to drug therapy. Targeted exercises strengthen the respiratory muscles and help to loosen the sputum. A “coachman” sitting position and pursed-lip breathing can also help.
As a COPD patient, you should be well-informed about your disease. Information is available through the NHS to help you give up smoking and avoid the risk factors. Support is also available such as advising on positions that make it easier to breathe and the correct inhalation techniques.
Vaccinating against flu viruses and pneumonia can significantly reduce the number of acute attacks of COPD.
Being overweight or underweight can affect the symptoms and progression of COPD. Eat a healthy diet to reach your ideal weight.
Severe COPD may demand the use of long-term oxygen therapy.
Pulmonary rehabilitation classes can improve your physical performance. They teach you to strengthen the respiratory muscles and the cardiovascular system, thus helping with shortness of breath.
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