Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, or COPD, is really two chronic illnesses combined. These are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Each of these is characterized by their own separate symptoms that, when combined, define COPD. When examining the options for COPD treatment, it can be helpful to understand the two illnesses and their treatments separately. COPD experts in Colorado Springs can help understand the illness and explore treatment options.
The emphysema component of COPD is a problem of the lungs themselves. The airways and air sacs where gas is exchanged lose their elastic qualities and the walls between many of the air sacs are destroyed. This reduces the surface area available for gas exchange and makes it more difficult for the lungs to expand and recoil properly. While this can’t be cured, treating COPD patients for this aspect of the illness can include pulmonary rehabilitation, nutrition therapy and supplemental oxygen. The most common cause of COPD, smoking, is also very important to consider here. Quitting smoking has shown to be as effective as any medication in slowing the progression of the disease as the person ages. Quitting smoking in combination with medication therapy is the best course of treatment for COPD.
The bronchitis part of COPD is a problem of the airways. The airways can become inflamed, which reduces the opening for air to travel through. In addition, they can produce more mucus than usual, which further clogs the already constricted passages. Treating COPD patients for this set of symptoms can include the use of bronchodilator medication to help open the airways, inhaled steroids to reduce inflammation or some combination of both.
There are also several lifestyle factors that can help improve a patient’s condition dramatically. Avoiding lung irritants such as cigarette smoke is the most important step a patient can take to treat COPD. Additionally, ensuring proper nutrition to support the immune system and exercising regularly to improve lung function are both important. Avoiding respiratory infections by getting vaccinated and staying away from people who are sick can be useful in preventing worsening symptoms.
A good COPD treatment plan will include a multifaceted approach. COPD experts in Colorado Springs can help identify a patient’s specific set of symptoms in order to administer the appropriate medicines. Additionally, they can help identify lifestyle changes that patients can make themselves to improve their situation. Finally, they can help ensure that patients are current on vaccines that can help prevent new respiratory illnesses. There are also several ongoing research studies looking at medications that may work better than those currently available. If you are interested in research opportunities call our Research Department directly at 719-473-8330.
By working together with patients to tailor a treatment plan based on their specific needs, the experts at AACOS can help COPD patients live a normal life. For more information or to make an appointment, call us at any of our Colorado locations today!