If you have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, or COPD, you may wish to discuss the following five questions with your physician:
1. What medicines will I be prescribed to treat my COPD condition?
Since there is no cure for COPD, medication and management of symptoms is prescribed. A number of combined therapies are recommended, some of which are:
• Stopping exposure to air pollutants and tobacco smoke immediately. This helps to slow the rapid progression of the disease.
• Nicotine replacement therapy to help overcome the cessation of smoking and thereby the withdrawal symptoms. Medicines such as Bupropion and Varenicline are also prescribed towards this end.
• Use of air purifiers at home and other forms of dust control
• Prescription broncho-dilators that help towards relieving shortness of breath and wheezing by dilating and relaxing the airway duct muscles. Both Beta 2 Agonists and Anticholinergics are prescribed for relief.
• Corticosteroids such as Fluticasone and Prednisone, etc., may also be recommended if the doctor deems it necessary to reduce airway inflammation indirectly.
• Apart from medication, supplemental oxygen may be administered to overcome breathing difficulties and to provide the right amount of oxygen to the system. This can be achieved using an oxygen mask or a nasal cannula connected to an oxygen cylinder.
• Pulmonary rehabilitation is also done in parallel to best manage the condition through counseling, weight reduction through exercises and physiotherapy.
• Lung transplants are suggested for severe COPD cases only. However a Bullectomy is common where the large air-filled spaces are removed. Similar surgery may be performed to remove the damaged parts of the lung, giving a chance to the healthier parts to expand.
2. Do you think I will need any surgical or other invasive procedure?
This depends on your doctor. S/he may recommend it if s/he considers it necessary after your physical check-up, report analysis and concluding after a discussion with you and other doctors, going through your medical history, and checking the extent and type of damage to the lungs.