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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) (cont.)

COPD Treatment

Patient Comments

The goal of the treatment of COPD is to improve the patient's daily living and quality of life by preventing symptoms and exacerbations, thereby preserving optimal lung function.

If a person is diagnosed with COPD, a health care professional will educate the patient about the disease. The patient will be encouraged to actively participate in their treatment program.

COPD Self-Care at Home

Smoking cessation is the most important thing a person can do to improve their condition. Stopping smoking can improve COPD symptoms.

Most patients with COPD are currently smoking or have smoked in the past. A plan to stop smoking is an essential part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Smoking cessation success rates, however, are low because of the following:

  • The addictive power of nicotine
  • The conditioned response to smoking-associated stimuli
  • Psychological problems, including depression, poor education, and forceful promotional campaigns by the tobacco industry

Setting a quit date may be helpful. A health care professional will participate with the patient by setting a target date and by scheduling follow-up visits.

The transition from smoking to not smoking occurs in five stages:

  1. Precontemplation
  2. Contemplation
  3. Preparation
  4. Action
  5. Maintenance

The process of smoking cessation involves multiple interventions. Smoking intervention programs include the following:

  • Self-help
  • Group
  • Physician delivered
  • Workplace
  • Community programs

Successful cessation programs typically use the following resources and tools:

  • Patient education
  • A quit date
  • Follow-up support
  • Relapse prevention
  • Advice for healthy lifestyle changes
  • Social support systems
  • Adjuncts to treatment (for example, medications)

Many people with COPD are unable to enjoy life to the fullest because of shortness of breath, physical limitations, and inactivity. Pulmonary rehabilitation programs are designed to improve quality of life by decreasing airflow limitation, preventing secondary medical complications, and alleviating respiratory symptoms.

Pulmonary rehabilitation programs are first conducted in an outpatient setting and then can be continued at home. Guidelines for continuing this program at home will be provided to the patient. A rehabilitation program may include a number of components and will be tailored to the patient's needs.

COPD Medical Treatment

The three major goals of the comprehensive treatment of COPD are as follows:

  1. Lessen airflow limitation
  2. Prevent and treat secondary medical complications (for example, hypoxemia, infection)
  3. Decrease respiratory symptoms and improve quality of life

Acute exacerbation of COPD is one of the major reasons for hospital admission in the United States.

The patient may need to be hospitalized if they develop severe respiratory dysfunction, if the disease progresses, or if they have other serious respiratory diseases (for example, pneumonia, acute bronchitis). The purpose of hospitalization is to treat symptoms and to prevent further deterioration.

The patient may be admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) if they require invasive or noninvasive mechanical ventilation or if they have the following symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Lethargy
  • Respiratory muscle fatigue
  • Worsening hypoxemia (not enough oxygen in the blood)
  • Respiratory acidosis (retention of carbon dioxide in the blood)
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/22/2015

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD):

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease - Symptoms

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COPD - Prognosis

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COPD - Experience

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COPD - Diagnosis

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COPD - Medications

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COPD - Home Remedies

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COPD - Causes

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COPD - Treatment

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