How Can I Live With COPD? There are about 14 million Americans living with COPD. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung disease in which the lungs are damaged, making it hard to breathe. In COPD, the airways- the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs- are partly obstructed, making it difficult to get air in and out. The most common signs of COPD are chronic coughing and shortness of breath. Although there is no cure for COPD, your symptoms can be managed, and damage to your lungs can be slowed. If you smoke, quitting is the most important thing you can do to help your lungs. Your doctor will recommend treatments that help relieve your symptoms and help you breathe easier. The goals of COPD treatment are to: • Relieve your symptoms with minimal or no side effects of treatment • Slow the progress of the disease • Improve exercise tolerance (your ability to stay active) • Prevent and treat complications and sudden onset of problems • Improve your overall health The treatment for COPD is different for each person. Your doctor will advise what is best for you. Treatment is based on whether your symptoms are mild, moderate or severe. What medicines might I take? Here are some examples: 1. Bronchodilators- relax the muscles around your airways. Bronchodilators can be either short acting or long acting. • Short- acting bronchodilators last about 4 to 6 hours and are used only when needed. • Long-acting bronchodilators last about 12 hours or more and are used everyday. Some examples are: Cholinergics- Atrovent and Spiriva Beta Agonists- Salmeterol and Albuterol Most bronchodilator medicines are inhaled, so they go directly into your lungs where they are needed. Please ask your doctor or nurse how to use your inhaler correctly. 2. Inhaled Glucocorticosteroids (Steroids)- inhaled steroids are used for some people with moderate to severe COPD. Inhaled steroids work to reduce airway inflammation. Your doctor may recommend that you try inhaled steroids for a trial period of 6 weeks to 3 months to see if the medicine is helping with your breathing problems. 3. Oral Steroids/Antibiotics- May be necessary with exacerbation. Example: Fluticasone Do I need to use oxygen? If you have severe COPD and low levels of oxygen in your blood, you are not getting enough oxygen on your own. Your doctor may recommend oxygen therapy to help with your shortness of breath. For some people with severe COPD, using oxygen 15 hours a day or more may help them. What will help me feel better? Visit the doctor and follow his or her Do activities sitting down or slowly. advice. Keep smoke, fumes, and strong smells out Keep your windows closed and stay of your home. at home when there is a lot of pollution or dust outside. Learn breathing exercises. Keep up your interests and be Ask your doctor or nurse about getting a flu upbeat! shot and pneumonia vaccination. How can I learn more? 1. Talk to your doctor (PCP) __________________ (phone#) _________________, nurse or other healthcare professionals. Your doctor will tell you how to take your medicine. It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully, so that your lungs receive the right amount of medicine. 2. Call 1-800-548-8252, or visit www.lungusa.org to learn more about COPD. Knowledge is power so Learn and Live! If you have any questions or concerns please call your Primary Care Physician at the above number.
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