COPD- How to Manage the disease

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the abnormal inflammatory obstruction of the airflow affecting the lungs, especially during expiration. COPD decreases the lung function and worsens it as it progresses resulting in difficulty to breathe. COPD disease is the third major cause of mortality and disability in the U.S according to the American Lung Association.

The management of COPD includes proper assessment and monitoring of the disease.

Aims of COPD management:

  • Reducing the symptoms and risk factors
  • Reduction of the airflow obstruction
  • Improving the quality of life
  • Prevention and reduction of secondary medical issues
  • Reducing the mortality rate
  • Improving exercise tolerance

Effective plan to manage COPD includes:

  1. Reducing the risk factors- Reducing the exposure to smoking tobacco, occupational chemicals and dust and outdoor and indoor air pollutants is the major step in the prevention of the onset and progression of COPD.
  • Quit smoking- Cessation of smoking (containing nicotine) is one of the major methods of slowing down the disease progression and is also very cost effective. Social support and brief counselling are very effective. Nicotine replacement therapies have also proven to be very effective e.g. nicotine in nasal spray or inhaler, nicotine patches, lozenges and gums. This nicotine replacement therapy helps the patients to overcome extreme cravings.
  • Inhalation of other occupational dust and air pollutants can be prevented or controlled by wearing special masks. Patients can also use nasal filters which are available in various sizes and can easily fit in the nostrils. These are easy to carry all day.
  1. Manage stable COPD – It is characterized by the severity of the disease. For COPD patients, health education plays a very important role in improving the health status and the ability to cope up with the illness. This also helps in achieving certain goals along with smoking cessation. On one hand, no existing medication has shown any positive result in improving the lung function in a long run but on the other, pharmacotherapy has proved to be helpful in reducing the complications and symptoms in COPD patients.
  • Bronchodilators – In severe COPD cases, Bronchodilator therapy has a major benefit of improving lung emptying function during expiration. It relaxes airway muscles and also helps in boosting airflow obstruction which further improves exercise tolerance.
  • Vaccine – COPD patients should keep themselves vaccinated to prevent them from influenza and pneumonia.
  1. Rehabilitation- Pulmonary rehabilitation includes:
  • Health Education
  • Exercise training
  • Psychosocial or behavioral intervention
  • Outcome assessment

It is very helpful for patients as it increases exercise ability, exercise tolerance, reduces dyspnea and improves the quality of life.

  1. Exercising – COPD patients need to be really active. They should perform exercise daily in order to improve their fitness, breathing and quality of life. Activities that make them feel breathless should not be avoided. Exercising regularly can make it reverse by strengthening the muscles. It also improves the blood pressure and pumping of the heart.
  1. Eating well –
  • If a patient is overweight it becomes difficult to move and breathe.
  • If a patient is losing a lot of weight it will lead to breathlessness and difficulty in performing day to day activities.

Thus, it is very important to take a balanced and healthy diet.

  1. Emotionally stable – Living with COPD in a long run is not that easy. With all the symptoms like coughing, breathlessness and tiredness can make the patient feel depressed, anxious and stressed. So, in order to tackle it, the patient should be sociable and active. Talking to a relative, friend or healthcare professional can be of great help to cope better with the ailing illness.
  1. Chest Physiotherapy- Patients can also consult chest physiotherapist in order to improve their lung capacity by performing various breathing exercises under their supervision.

COPD is a long term, recurring and a disabling condition. Disability can be reduced with the use of effective and safe medications as a systematic approach. Especially through proper therapies and rehabilitation the patient can achieve a good quality of life. The patient should also make sure to take proper sleep and enough rest every day. It will help in regaining their energy levels. Some patients might have sleep disorders which are common and can be treated. The patient should try to exercise daily and avoid alcohol, coffee or tea before going to bed. Smoking cessation is the best method to slow down COPD progression and smokers should always be encouraged for the same. Inhaled corticosteroids must be avoided unless the patient has asthma. In cases of emergency, patients can keep nebulizers at home which are available at cheaper rates after consulting the doctor. This will help in taking up the medicines (liquid form and gets converted into mist) easily into the lungs. Joining some singing groups may be not for singing but for breathing control exercises have also proven to be of great help to many patients.

About Pharmascroll:

Pharmascroll is a diligent business consulting and market research firm focused solely towards pharmaceutical markets. The company consults and researches in majorly chronic disease indications prevalent across the globe.

The research conducted by Pharmascroll analysts is targeted to provide analytical and logical answers to the key business questions of the pharmaceutical and medical insights teams and to make better-informed business decisions with the detailed relevant information available.

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