COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a progressive condition that affects the lungs. At present, there is no cure for COPD but medication and COPD treatment do exist to alleviate the symptoms, improve overall quality of life, and slow down disease progression. If you are diagnosed with the condition, you will be informed about COPD treatment – 4 stages information by your medical professional. It is vital that you follow such advice.
What Are The Four Stages Of COPD?
The four stages of COPD are mild, mild to severe, severe, and very severe. COPD is never truly asymptomatic, even at the mild stage. However, the symptoms, such as persistent coughs and shortness of breath, are often so mild that people usually believe they are caused by a cold or allergy and don’t seek any medical attention. In fact, the majority of people don’t visit their physician until they are in the severe stage.
What Treatment Is Available?
The first and most important treatment, regardless of the stage of COPD that the patient has, is to quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke, as well as other environmental pollutants. This will help to strengthen the patient’s airways, thereby not adding more restriction to the flow of air.
At all of the stages, COPD can be stable, which means it doesn’t get any worse for a while, or exacerbated, which means that the patient has a flareup. However, at some point, the patient will have a flareup that will send him or her to the next stage of COPD. The goal of treatment, therefore, is to maintain stabibility and avoid exacerbation. To achieve this, a number of treatment options are offered.
COPD Treatment options for having a stability in your health include short acting inhalers and bronchodilators, long acting inhalers and bronchodilators, steroid inhalers, bronchodilator tablets, and mucolytic medicines. Those who experience an exacerbation will usually be prescribed steroid tablets and antibiotics. They may also have to be admitted to the hospital, particularly if they are at risk of an infection.
As COPD progresses through the stages, patients will increasingly be in need of more oxygen. This means that they may be prescribed an oxygen tank. At the early stages, they may only need a few minutes or hours of treatment. Eventually, however, they are likely to need constant oxygen therapy, either through a nasal prong or a gas mask.
COPD being progressive and incurable does mean that, eventually, they will require end of life care as a result of the condition. Usually, this will entail palliative care, meaning that the patients will be made as comfortable as possible. At this point, they will also have near permanent home oxygen. Furthermore, they may be prescribed morphine, codeine, and other strong opiate-based pain killers.
Very rarely, surgery may be offered to COPD patients. While mainly in the experimental phase, some minor successes have been achieved with lung transplants and bullectomies. Both surgeries are rarely offered, particularly lung transplants, as patients may be too weak to be able to withstand the very invasive surgical procedure.