Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, refers to a group of diseases that cause airflow blockage and breathing-related problems. It includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD makes breathing difficult for those who have this disease. Millions more people suffer from COPD, but have not been diagnosed and are not being treated. Although there is no cure for COPD, it can be treated.
Treatment of COPD requires a careful and thorough evaluation by a physician. COPD treatment can alleviate symptoms, decrease the frequency and severity of exacerbations, and increase exercise tolerance. Treatment options that your physician may consider include:
Quit smoking. For people who smoke, the most important part of treatment is smoking cessation.
Avoid tobacco smoke and other air pollutants at home and at work.
Ask your doctor about pulmonary rehabilitation, which is a personalized treatment program that teaches COPD management strategies to improve quality of life.
If you’re having any of the signs or symptoms of COPD, don’t wait for your next appointment to call your provider. Report these symptoms promptly, even if you don’t feel sick. Don’t wait for symptoms to become so severe that you need to seek emergency care. If you notice your symptoms early, your provider might change your treatment or medications to relieve your symptoms. (Never change or stop taking your medications without first talking to your healthcare provider.