Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

COPD is an acronym that stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and 20 years ago we used to call it emphysema, or chronic bronchitis, or smoker’s lung or asthmatic bronchitis. And there’s two components of COPD. One is that the airways—the breathing tubes—get progressively narrower, so patients feel as if they’re breathing through a straw. And the other component is the gas exchange units, which are called alveoli, get completely destroyed, and holes form in the lungs of COPD patients.

Information – COPD Treatment

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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is used to describe chronic lung diseases, including bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible asthma) and emphysema. COPD has many causes, including smoking and genetic factors. If you have COPD, it’s important to see your physician regularly, because the disease is characterized by flare-ups and remissions.

Common COPD Treatments

The main treatment for COPD is a bronchodilator (inhaled medication). Other COPD treatments include:

  • Oral steroids
  • Phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitors (for severe COPD or chronic bronchitis)
  • Antibiotics for respiratory infections
  • Oxygen therapy

Patients with some forms of severe emphysema who aren’t helped by medications alone may be candidates for surgery, including a bullectomy or lung transplant.

Lifestyle Changes for COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is commonly caused by smoking, so quitting smoking is the best way to reduce and prevent COPD symptoms. A healthy diet can ensure you get the proper nutrients and reduce symptoms. You could work with a nutritionist or dietitian to create a meal plan for COPD management that includes the right levels of:

  • Fiber. It’s an important part of everyone’s diet, and is especially beneficial for those with COPD. Fiber helps move food through your digestive system, and it can help control cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
  • Protein. This essential component for energy can even help fight off infections.
  • Phosphorus and magnesium, which both contribute to healthy lung function. Up to half of COPD patients have low phosphorus levels due to poor nutrition and/or certain medications.
  • Calcium and vitamin D to keep your bones healthy and strong. One side effect of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is weak and brittle bones.

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Left untreated, COPD can continue to get worse. In some cases, it affects patients silently, and it’s only later that it impacts their quality of life and leads to hospitalization or death. While there’s no cure for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, if treated early and appropriately, many patients can maintain a good quality of life.

Talk to your family physician if you’d like more information on COPD. 

Visit HealthChoicesFirst.com for more videos and resources on lung health.

Print this Action Plan and check off items that you want to discuss with your healthcare provider

  •   The main treatment for COPD is a bronchodilator (inhaled medication).
  •   Other COPD treatments include oral steroids, phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitors, antibiotics for respiratory infections and oxygen therapy.
  •   Patients with some forms of severe emphysema who aren’t helped by medications alone may be candidates for surgery, including a bullectomy or lung transplant.
  •   Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is commonly caused by smoking, so quitting smoking is the best way to reduce and prevent COPD symptoms.
  •   A healthy diet can ensure you get the proper nutrients and reduce symptoms. You could work with a nutritionist or dietitian to create a meal plan for COPD management that includes the right levels of fiber, protein, phosphorus, magnesium and other nutrients.