COPD Patient Education

COPD Patient Education – Overview

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs, characterized by damage to the air sacs and chronic bronchitis (inflammation and narrowing of the bronchial tubes).

The most common cause of COPD is smoking. As lungs tend to get damaged gradually over time, breathing becomes increasingly difficult.

When the damage becomes extensive, it may become harder for the lungs to get sufficient oxygen levels into the blood and expel carbon dioxide. All these causes lead to shortness of breath and other similar symptoms.

Treatment for COPD aims to relieve symptoms, prevent and manage exacerbations, improve quality of life, and slow disease progression. Quitting smoking is the most critical step in treatment.

In this article, you will learn everything about COPD patient education, including the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment methods.

Recovering from COPD

There are several things that patients with COPD can do to improve their health and decrease the risk of complications from this condition, including:

Quitting smoking – The most important step in controlling COPD is to quit smoking. Regardless of the progress of the disease, this step is extremely effective in slowing the progression of the disease.

Learning inhalation techniques—Medications for COPD are commonly administered through inhalers or nebulizers, each requiring specific techniques. Different types of inhalers and nebulizers are available, and each requires a slightly different technique to use. Your healthcare provider can easily help you select the best device to treat COPD.

Pulmonary rehabilitation – A program that includes exercise, education, and support to help patients manage their COPD symptoms. This involves education about the condition, exercise training, instruction on breathing techniques and social support.

Preventing/Treating infections – If you get infected with a respiratory infection while suffering from COPD, the former can exacerbate the latter’s symptoms. To prevent this, you should ensure to take all recommended vaccines to manage COPD.

Nutrition – Maintaining a healthy diet is challenging but crucial for patients with COPD to manage their condition and support overall health. Unintentional weight loss is usually seen in people with advanced lung disease. Not having enough to eat can cause malnutrition which can worsen COPD symptoms and increase the risk of infection too. Consult your healthcare provider if you are having problems eating, or if you lose weight unintentionally.

Constant monitoring – You should also visit your healthcare provider as recommended for follow-up appointments so that they can monitor the progress of the disease and treatment technique together.

Severity of COPD

The best way to get COPD treatment, such as medication, will depend on the severity of your condition. The severity is determined by your symptoms, risk of future complications and the results from the spirometry testing.

Medications for COPD

Apart from the preventive measures stated above, there are also several types of treatment methods used to treat COPD, including:


This is a type of medication that helps to open narrowed or inflamed airways and is the mainstream treatment method in use today.

This medication also helps to lower the amount of mucus in the lungs. It comes in an inhaler form: a metered dose inhaler (MDI), soft mist inhaler (SMI), nebulizer, or dry powder inhaler (DPI).

When using inhalers to treat COPD, it is important to follow the instructions on the medication labels.


Inhaled corticosteroids reduce airway inflammation in COPD, often combined with bronchodilators. Systemic corticosteroids may be used for acute exacerbations.

The inhaler type of glucocorticoids is generally used for long-term symptoms control combined with long-acting bronchodilators. Pill or IV-induced glucocorticoids are usually used for short-term COPD treatment.


Theophylline and roflumilast are medications used to manage symptoms and prevent exacerbations in specific COPD patients alongside standard treatments. These pills reduce chronic cough and phlegm production, such as chronic bronchitis.

These are also effective in combating shortness of breath and act as antibiotics to prevent the symptoms from worsening.

Prognosis of COPD

Though COPD can get worse with time, it is often difficult to predict its pace of progress and prognosis. Several factors contribute to the severity of COPD, such as being underweight, being a smoker, or having other medical problems along with your lung functioning capacity.

The prognosis for COPD varies; factors such as disease severity, smoking status, and comorbidities play a role. Non-smokers with less severe COPD generally have a better prognosis.


COPD is, unfortunately, becoming increasingly common. It is vital to be aware of its signs and symptoms as well as its diagnosis and treatment methods so you can get the most effective and affordable treatment for COPD.

See Also

Patient Education for Osteoporosis

Heart Failure Patient Education

High Blood Pressure Patient Education

Good Qualities in a Doctor

How to Become a Patient Educator

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