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Treatment for COPD

Your healthcare provider will prescribe the best treatments for your COPD.


Advice includes:

  • Medicines. Some medicines help ease symptoms when they happen. Others are taken every day to control lung inflammation. Always take your medicines as prescribed. Learn the names of your medicines. Also know how and when to use them. Talk with your provider about other conditions you have and the medicines you take. Always use the correct technique for your metered dose inhaler or nebulizer.. Ask your healthcare provider how to use your medicine delivery device. You can also check the user manual of the device.

  • Tests. To monitor COPD risks, your provider may advise a blood test or sputum test for eosinophil count. Or you may need bronchodilator reversibility testing. All people with COPD should be screened once for alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD).

  • Surgery. Your healthcare provider may advise that you have surgery. This might be lung volume reduction surgery, a bullectomy, or a lung transplant.

  • Oxygen therapy. You may need to take oxygen if tests show that your blood has too little of it. Ask your healthcare provider about long-term oxygen therapy.

  • Smoking. If you smoke, quit. Smoking is the main cause of COPD. Quitting will help you be able to better manage your COPD. Also don't use e-cigarettes or vaping products. Ask your healthcare provider about ways to help you quit smoking.

  • Prevent infections. Infections such as a cold or the flu can make your symptoms worse. Try to stay away from people who are sick. Wash your hands often. And ask your healthcare provider about vaccines for the flu and pneumonia.

Coping with shortness of breath

Man and woman walking along beach.

Coping tips include:

  • Exercise. Be as active as you can. This will help your energy. It will also strengthen your muscles, so you can do more.

  • Breathing methods. Ask your healthcare provider or nurse to show you how to do pursed-lip breathing.

  • Pollution. Stay away from both indoor and outdoor pollution. Indoor pollution includes things such as burning wood, smoke from home cooking, and heating fuels. Outdoor pollution includes things such as dusts, vapors, fumes, gases, and other chemicals.

  • Balance rest and activity. Try to balance rest with activity. For example, you might start the day with getting dressed and eating breakfast. Then you can relax and read the paper. After that, take a brief walk. And then sit with your feet up for a while.

  • Pulmonary rehab.   Community-based and home-based rehab programs work as well as hospital-based programs if they are done as often and as intensely. Standard home-based pulmonary rehab programs can help you with dyspnea. Traditional pulmonary rehab remains the standard of care. It's the best choice for people with COPD. These programs help manage your disease. They also help with breathing methods and exercise. They can provide support and counseling. To find one, ask your provider or call your local hospital. Also talk with your healthcare provider about which rehab or self-care program is best for you.

  • Healthy eating. A healthy, balanced diet is important to help you stay as healthy as possible. So is staying at your ideal weight. Being overweight or underweight can have affect your health. Make sure you have a lot of fruits and vegetables every day. And also eat balanced portions of whole grains, lean meats and fish, and low-fat dairy products.

Online Medical Reviewer: Allen J Blaivas DO
Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Ronald Karlin MD
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2022
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.