Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) | Treatment

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Is there a cure for COPD?

No. There is no cure for COPD.

How is COPD treated?

Treatment for COPD aims to help you feel better, control your symptoms, and reduce your risk of complications. Your treatment options include:

Stop smoking: If you are a smoker who has COPD, the most important thing you can do is stop smoking. This will help to stop or slow the damage to your lungs and is the only way to keep your symptoms from getting worse. Talk to your doctor about how to stop smoking. The sooner you stop smoking, the better chance you have of living longer and being healthier.

Medicines: Your doctor may prescribe one or more medicines to make you feel better and help you breathe. These medicines may include:

  • Antibiotics: These medicines help treat bacterial respiratory infections, which can make your symptoms worse.
  • Bronchodilators: These medicines help relax the muscles around your airways and may make it easier for you to breathe.
  • Steroids: These medicines may help make it easier for you to breathe, but usually are only used in people who have more severe COPD.

Vaccines: Vaccines can help prevent certain respiratory infections, such as influenza and pneumonia. These infections can make your symptoms worse or cause more lung damage. Talk to your doctor about when and how often you should receive vaccines.

Oxygen therapy: Some people who have more advanced COPD need to use oxygen. You breathe the oxygen through tubes that you put in your nose or through a mask that goes over your mouth and nose.

Pulmonary rehabilitation: Rehabilitation programs help you manage your disease by creating a team of health professionals to help you learn about your disease, receive counseling, and create exercise and eating plans tailored to your needs.

Surgery: Rarely, patients who have very serious COPD may benefit from surgery. They might have a lung reduction operation or a lung transplant. These surgeries are usually done only in people who have not done well with other treatments.

How do I take inhaled medicines?

To take inhaled medicines, you might use a small handheld canister, or you might use a nebulizer machine to deliver a specific amount of medication to your lungs. A nebulizer machine turns liquid medicine into a vapor (like a cloud) that you can breathe. This machine is often used to treat people who have more serious COPD. It also helps people who have trouble using handheld inhalers.

Your doctor will tell you how to take your medicine. It is important to follow your doctor's instructions carefully so that your lungs receive the right amount of medicine.

Bibliography

See a list of resources used in the development of this information.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 08/12
Created: 08/01

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