How is COPD Treated? (2nd Article of a Series)

The only way to slow COPD is to quit smoking. This is the most important thing you can do. It is never too late to quit. No matter how long you have smoked or how serious your COPD is, quitting smoking can help stop the damage to your lungs.

It’s hard to quit smoking. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about treatments that can help. You will double your chances of quitting even if medicine is the only treatment you use to quit, but your odds get even better when you combine medicine and other quit strategies, such as counseling. To learn more about how to quit, go to http://www.smokefree.gov, or call 1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669).

Your doctor can prescribe treatments that may help you manage your symptoms and feel better.

•Medicines can help you breathe easier. Most of them are inhaled so they go straight to your lungs. If you get an inhaler, it is very important to use it just the way your doctor shows you.
•A lung (pulmonary) rehab program can help you learn to manage your disease. A team of health professionals can provide counseling and teach you how to breathe easier, exercise, and eat well.
•In time, you may need to use oxygen some or most of the time.

People who have COPD are more likely to get lung infections, so you will need to get a flu vaccine every year. You should also get a pneumococcal shot. It may not keep you from getting pneumonia. But if you do get pneumonia, you probably will not be as sick.

There are many things you can do at home to stay as healthy as you can.

•Avoid things that can irritate your lungs, such as smoke, pollution, and air that is cold and dry.
•Use an air conditioner or air filter in your home.
•Take rest breaks during the day.
•Get regular exercise to stay as strong as you can.
•Eat well so you can keep up your strength. If you are losing weight, ask your doctor or dietitian about ways to make it easier to get the calories you need.
What else should you think about?

Flare-ups: As COPD gets worse, you may have flare-ups when your symptoms quickly get worse and stay worse. It is important to know what to do if this happens. Your doctor can prescribe medicines to help. But if the attack is severe, you may need to go to the emergency room or call 911.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

© 1995-2011 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

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