How Is COPD Treated?
There is no cure for COPD. However, there are some actions you can take to help manage your symptoms.
If you smoke, quitting is the first step recommended by doctors to treat COPD and slow its progression.
Exercising regularly is also important. Staying active can help improve your breathing and ease your symptoms.
There are other lifestyle changes you can make to lessen symptoms. These include maintaining a healthy diet and
avoiding symptom triggers (ie, smoke or dust). You can also drink a lot of fluids to loosen mucus.
Considering a medication
Once diagnosed, your doctor may prescribe medications for your COPD. There are a variety of medicines available that
can help make it easier for you to breathe and help manage your symptoms. Some of the medicines are oral pills or tablets
and some are inhaled. Inhaled medicines that quickly relieve symptoms are called "rescue inhalers." Since COPD is a
condition that doesn't go away, your doctor may also prescribe a "maintenance inhaler," which is used every day to
help keep your airways open.
Understanding the difference: Rescue and maintenance inhalers
Even when taking a maintenance medication, you will also need to continue to use your rescue medicine. It is
important to know the fundamental differences between the two. Below is a simple chart that outlines some of those differences.
When To Use
Used on an as-needed basis when you feel it’s very difficult to breathe
Taken every day, even if you’re feeling better
What They Do
Quickly relieve the symptoms of COPD by relaxing the muscles that tighten the airways
Control the symptoms of COPD by keeping the airways open over a longer period of time
May reduce the need for rescue inhalers, but don’t replace them
Usually work within 5 minutes and wear off rapidly, with relief lasting only 4 to 6 hours
May take up to 30 minutes to work, and effects last 12 to 24 hours; they are not intended for rescue use
Remember to always take your medicine as directed by your doctor.
For more detail on lifestyle changes that can help you manage COPD,
Lifestyle Tips section