Effective Treatment Methods for COPD

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  • Currently, there is no known cure for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Instead, treatment relies on slowing down and controlling the symptoms
  • If you’re diagnosed with COPD and you haven’t stopped smoking yet, there’s a risk that your condition may worsen in the long run. Quitting is essential to help save your remaining healthy lung tissue

Currently, there is no known cure for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Instead, treatment relies on slowing down and controlling the symptoms, allowing you to perform your day-to-day tasks. These include lifestyle changes and possibly even surgery as a last resort. Depending on your situation, your doctor will help you decide what the best treatment for you is.

Quitting Smoking Is the First Step to Successful Treatment

If you’re diagnosed with COPD and you haven’t stopped smoking yet, there’s a risk that your condition may worsen in the long run. Quitting is essential to help save your remaining healthy lung tissue.1

If you’ve tried quitting before but found it hard to do, you may want to seek help from professionals and support groups. One recommendation provided by the American Cancer Society is joining Nicotine Anonymous, a peer help program that applies the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous to tobacco addiction. You may also want to consider signing up for a tobacco cessation program, which is designed to help smokers cope with problems while quitting, such as the onset of withdrawal symptoms.2

Breathing Exercises Can Help Your Lungs

Having COPD can make you anxious, thus making your lungs work harder. Instead of straining yourself, there are two breathing techniques that you can try without exerting too much effort on your lungs: pursed-lips breathing and diaphragmatic breathing.3

The goal of pursed-lips breathing is to slow your inhale and exhale rate, as well as keep your airways open longer so you can get rid of trapped air. Potential benefits of this technique include increasing the amount of time you can exercise, as well as improving the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Here’s the procedure:4

  1. Breathe in through your nose for a couple of seconds.
  2. Pucker your lips like you’re about to blow out candles.
  3. Breathe out very slowly through the lips two to three times as long as you breathed in.
  4. Repeat as necessary.

Diaphragmatic breathing, on the other hand, focuses on strengthening the diaphragm in your chest to help take the load off your neck, shoulder and back muscles. Follow the procedure here:5

  1. Relax your shoulders then place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly.
  2. Inhale through your nose for two seconds.
  3. As you breathe in, your belly should move outward and the action should have more emphasis than the chest.
  4. As you exhale slowly through pursed lips, gently press on your belly. This will push up the diaphragm to help let air out.
  5. Repeat as necessary.

Strengthen Your Body With Regular Exercise

While it may seem counterproductive, exercising may actually help you breathe better because it improves your overall physical capacity. According to the Cleveland Clinic, COPD patients should exercise because it may help you in the following catergories:6

Build energy levels and increase endurance

Strengthen your cardiovascular system

Improve oxygen circulation

Improve sleep

Reduce stress, anxiety and depression

Help reduce weight

Boost self-esteem

Improve symptoms of COPD

Before heading straight into exercising, talk to your doctor first to know your limits. Important points to consider include frequency, duration and the types of exercise you are allowed do.7

Lung Transplant Should Be Considered a Last Resort

If damage to the lung is extensive already and COPD is at its advanced stages, a lung transplant may be recommended as a last resort.

While a transplant may save your life, there are major downsides to this operation. First, you will need to be screened extensively so that your name will be on a list of potential organ recipients, and finding a donor can take time. Next, if you do happen to find a donor, you will need to undergo surgery, which carries its own set of risks.8

If the operation is successful, your next few weeks will be focused on recovery by undergoing physical therapy and frequent return visits to the doctor.9 You may also need to be put on a life-long medication plan of immunosuppressants to help prevent your body from rejecting the foreign lungs.10 Discuss these concerns with your doctor thoroughly before making this decision.

MORE ABOUT COPD

COPD: An Introduction

What Is COPD?

COPD Symptoms

COPD Causes

COPD Stages

Types of COPD

COPD Treatment

COPD Life Expectancy

COPD Prevention

COPD Diet

COPD FAQ

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