What are the options for COPD Treatment?
While there is no cure for COPD, the goal of COPD treatment is to slow disease progression, reduce symptoms, prevent COPD flare-ups and improve quality of life. If you’re diagnosed with COPD, you will want to learn how to treat COPD on your own and with medical assistance. You can work with your doctor to develop an individualized COPD treatment plan. Depending upon how advanced your disease is, the COPD treatment guidelines may recommend that your treatment options include the following:
Smoking cessation – The most important aspect of COPD treatment for anyone with COPD who smokes is to quit smoking as soon as possible. Studies show that a combination of medications (nicotine replacement therapy, Wellbutrin, Chantix, Elavil) and behavioral counseling work best. Whether you are a smoker or a non-smoker, you should avoid all airway irritants, such as secondhand smoke, indoor and outdoor air pollution and dust and chemicals in the workplace.
Physical activity – Regular exercise is important for people with COPD. Talk with your doctor about what types of activities are best for you and your COPD therapy. You may find being active has become more difficult with your COPD symptoms. However, staying active can also keep the muscles that help you breathe stronger—and therefore help you breathe more easily.
COPD medications help reduce symptoms and prevent complications. The following are the most common medications given in COPD treatment:
- Bronchodilators relax the breathing passages making it easier to breathe. Depending on the severity of your COPD, your doctor may prescribe short-acting or long-acting bronchodilators, or a combination of the two.
- Corticosteroids reduce inflammation in the air passages. Regular treatment with inhaled corticosteroids improves symptoms and quality of life, increases lung function and reduces the risk of COPD exacerbation. Inhaled corticosteroids can be given alone or in combination with a long-acting bronchodilator.
- Phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitors suppress inflammation by blocking the action of PDE4, an enzyme that’s overproduced in asthma and COPD. The once-daily medication called Daliresp (romflumilast) is the only PDE4 inhibitor on the market that’s approved for the treatment of COPD. The drug has been shown to improve forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and reduce the frequency of COPD exacerbations.
- Antibiotics are reserved in COPD treatment for cases of COPD exacerbation that are caused by a bacterial infection. Antibiotics are not effective in treating exacerbations caused by viruses.
Oxygen Therapy for COPD
Another one of the COPD treatment options is oxygen therapy, provided via one of several delivery systems. No matter which delivery system you use, the oxygen is administered in one of three ways:
- Through a nasal cannula (small plastic tubes placed in each nostril).
- Through a face mask (which fits over your mouth and nose).
- Through a small tube inserted into your windpipe via an incision in the front of your neck (transtracheal oxygen therapy).
Types of Oxygen Delivery Systems
The type of oxygen delivery system you choose depends upon your individual needs and the advice of your doctor. Ask your doctor which of these oxygen machines for COPD is right for you.
- Portable Oxygen Concentrators – For more active people with COPD,portable oxygen concentrators offer more freedom of movement. They’re lightweight and continuously purify air from the atmosphere, eliminating the need for tanks or any type of refill. Portable oxygen concentrators are powered by a rechargeable battery or any AC/DC power outlet, so you can travel with them or use them as your main oxygen supply source at home. This type of oxygen delivery system offers the greatest independence and mobility of all the options.
- Home Oxygen Concentrators – When treating COPD, oxygen concentrators may be needed. Home oxygen concentrators are inexpensive but fairly heavy (about 30 pounds) and need to be plugged into a power outlet. They work by concentrating oxygen from the air all around you and removing the other gases.
- Compressed Oxygen Tanks and Cylinders – Tanks or cylinders are another option for COPD oxygen therapy. They contain compressed or pressurized oxygen gas and come in different sizes. Some are too heavy to move around, but smaller sized tanks or cylinders can be carried or wheeled in a cart.
- Liquid Oxygen Systems – Liquid oxygen is created by cooling oxygen gas, which changes it to a liquid form. This form of COPD oxygen therapy tends to be used by people who are more active because larger amounts of oxygen can be stored in smaller, more convenient containers than with compressed oxygen tanks. Unfortunately, liquid oxygen can’t be stored for a long time because it will evaporate.
Flu and Pneumonia Vaccines
Unless your health care provider informs you otherwise, every COPD patient should get an annual flu vaccine as soon as they become available during the year. Prevention is an essential aspect of how to treat COPD and should be part of your COPD therapy. An annual flu vaccine reduces the risk of serious illness and death in COPD by as much as 50%. Pneumonia vaccines lower the risk of pneumococcal (a type of bacteria) pneumonia and are recommended for COPD patients aged 65 years and older and younger COPD patients who have significant coexisting illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes.
A formal pulmonary rehabilitation program typically includes an exercise program and a disease management consultation, as well as nutritional and psychological counseling. Your health care professionals—doctors, nurses, physical therapists, respiratory specialists and nutritionists—will work together to develop COPD treatment options and a COPD therapy program designed especially for you. Benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation include improved survival, improved ability to exercise, reduced breathlessness, improved quality of life, reduced hospitalization time and hospitalizations per year, decreased anxiety and depression and improved arm function.
Lung surgery may benefit some people who have COPD and is often a last resort for people with severe symptoms that have not experienced any improvement from other methods of COPD therapy or treatment. There are four possible types of surgery that your doctor may recommend: standard lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS), bronchoscopic lung volume reduction (BLVR), lung transplant and bullectomy. Standard LVRS and BLVR are procedures that remove damaged lung tissue from the lungs to help them work better. The main difference between the two is that standard LVRS is done in open surgery while BLVR is done with a bronchoscope. A lung transplant removes the diseased lung and replaces it with a healthy lung from a deceased donor. A bullectomy removes bullae, large air spaces that form when the lungs’ air sacs are destroyed.
Testing for COPD
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is diagnosed through a basic lung test called spirometry. In this test you blow air into a mouthpiece and an attached machine measures how much air you’re blowing and how quickly you can blow it. The results from this test will help determine your COPD diagnosis and how severe your COPD is.
How Inogen Can Help with COPD
When you first learn that you have COPD, you will probably ask your doctor, “How do you treat COPD?” Take your time and ask about all your COPD treatment options, including COPD medications, COPD therapy and oxygen machines for COPD. The good news is that the COPD treatment guidelines usually incorporate a number of different therapies, and you have quite a few options. If one of those options is oxygen therapy, Inogen can help with your COPD treatment.
Inogen One portable oxygen concentrators are a modern, lightweight, easy-to-use solution for better breathing. Oxygen therapy used to mean being tethered to a stationary oxygen system, or hauling around heavy oxygen tanks and carefully calculating outings to prepare for refills. Inogen believes that oxygen therapy should help improve your life, not get in the way of it, so we have created a portable oxygen concentrator that requires no refills and no heavy tanks, and can be used at home or on the go. Because it can be powered by rechargeable battery or any AC or DC power source, the Inogen One oxygen concentrator travels easily, giving you the freedom, independence and mobility you want. With the Inogen One System, you get purified, oxygen-rich air pulled continuously from the atmosphere. There is no need for your oxygen therapy program to keep you from living your life. With Inogen One, you can get your oxygen anytime, anywhere.
Talk to your doctor and find out how Inogen can help make your COPD treatment better. One of the quietest oxygen devices available and providing surprising energy efficiency, the Inogen One uses about as much power as a 40-watt light bulb. Even better, it is easy to use, creating greater independence for you and your physician. In every aspect of its design, the Inogen One is engineered to deliver a better experience to COPD patients receiving oxygen therapy. Find out how it can improve your quality of life and help treat your COPD today.