COPD can be challenging to live with, but fortunately, there are many treatments available to help patients live full, healthy lives. Learn from COPD patients and experts about the keys to treating COPD.
Kathy: To have COPD feels like you have a plastic bag on your head, and the more you struggle to get a breath in, the harder it is to breathe.
Dr. Parikh: Hi, I'm Dr. Parikh. Today we're talking about COPD. It is a chronic lung condition that makes it hard to breathe.
Kathy: I have severe COPD/adult respiratory distress syndrome, which means I'm at a high risk to stop breathing at any time.
Robert: I get short of breath if I walk long distances. I get short of breath if I talk a lot.
Edward: Right now, if I go up a flight of stairs, I'm out of breath at the end, but the realization is there's no cure for this, that I'm going to have to do maintenance.
Kathy: Heat is a trigger. Perfume's a trigger for me. When most people get a cold, I get bronchitis instantly. But once I was able to identify the triggers and contain them, I was much better.
Dr. Parikh: So what are the most common treatments for COPD?
Dr. Shahzad: So the flare-up treatment is a short-acting beta agonist, which you take two puffs as needed which should be four to six times a day. Either it's going to be an inhaler or in the nebulizer form.
Dr. Shahzad: The second is, once your disease is progressing, you will now use some maintenance medications which are also bronchodilators to open up your lungs, and we start with medications called LAMA, which is long-acting muscarinic agents. You cannot stop your maintenance medications without consulting your doctor.
Edward: I do my spray the first thing in the morning. Is that wrong?
Dr. Shahzad: It depends which inhalers you take. It's very important to take it at a specific time of day. The other thing is oxygen. Once you qualify for oxygen, you have to use it at least 15 to 18 hours a day.
Dr. Parikh: What type of treatment were you started on when you were first diagnosed?
Robert: When I was first diagnosed, it was just a rescue inhaler and occasionally a nebulizer treatment.
Robert: And do you tend to change your medications depending on how severe your symptoms are?
Kathy: It was a lot of trial and error until we found something that actually worked.
Dr. Parikh: And do you carry some medications with you?
Robert: The only medication I carry with me is my rescue inhaler.
Kathy: Once you realize you're not alone with this condition and you have to realize how to cope with it, how to get through your day, and don't judge somebody by the way that they look just because you don't look like you have COPD, what is somebody with COPD supposed to look like?
Medical Reviewers:William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Review Date:04-06-2018