COPD Patient Education – Overview
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a condition that inflames and narrows (chronic bronchitis) the airways to the lungs which cause damage to the air sacs (emphysema).
The most common cause of COPD is smoking. As lungs tend to get damaged gradually over time, it becomes increasingly difficult to breathe.
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.
Getting treatment for COPD helps to control the shortness of breath and cough. It can also slow down the progress of the disease in many cases. However, the main goal of COPD treatment is to improve how you feel by quitting smoking and avoiding passive smoking as well.
In this article, you will learn everything there is to know in COPD patient education, including the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment methods for COPD.
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 to slow further progression of the disease.
Learning inhaling techniques – Most medications to treat COPD are in an inhaler form while some others come in a nebulizer. There are different types of inhalers and nebulizers available with each requiring a slightly different technique to use it. Your healthcare provider can easily help to select the best-suited device to treat COPD.
Pulmonary rehabilitation – Pulmonary rehab program teaches you different ways to get rid of the symptoms of COPD. 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, then the former can exacerbate the latter’s symptoms. To prevent this, you should ensure to take all recommended vaccines to manage COPD.
Nutrition – Patients with advanced COPD are unable to maintain a healthy diet because of the different symptoms. 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. They come in an inhaler form with a metered dose inhaler (MDI), soft mist inhaler (SMI), nebulizer or dry powder inhaler (DPI).
It is important to follow the instructions of use provided on the medication labels when using inhalers to treat COPD.
Glucocorticoids are a type of medication with anti-inflammatory properties. These are a form of steroids that can be consumed in different forms, such as a pill, inhaler, or through IV.
Inhaler type of glucocorticoids is generally used for long-term symptoms control combined with long-acting bronchodilators. The pill or IV-induced glucocorticoids are usually used for short-term COPD treatment.
There are also some medications, such as theophylline and roflumilast which are prescribed to treat COPD symptoms that are present even after having tried the usual treatment therapies. These pills work to reduce chronic cough and phlegm production, such as for chronic bronchitis.
These are also effective to combat shortness of breath and also act as an antibiotic 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. There are several factors that contribute to the severity of COPD, such as being underweight, being a smoker, or having other medical problems along with your lung functioning capacity.
People with less severe COPD tend to have mild symptoms, have a healthy weight range and do not smoke tend to live fairly longer.
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 ensure to get the most effective and affordable treatment for COPD.