- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung disease that causes difficulty in breathing. To overcome breathing problems, the patient seeks various treatments and therapies for short and long term relief from the symptoms of COPD. Medical science has not yet found any cure for COPD. However, the goal of COPD treatments and therapies is to minimize the symptoms and prevent further complications that consequently improve the patient’s quality of life.
- Treatments for COPD
- Inhalers, nebulizers, portable oxygen concentrators, and CPAP therapy machines are used for treating COPD.
There are three types of inhalers: HFA (hydrofluoroalkane), soft mist inhalers (SMI), and dry powder inhalers (DPI).
This inhaler contains a liquid that enters the patient’s lungs through an aerosol spray. The patient is supposed to shake the HFA inhaler and then place their lips around the mouthpiece and breathe slowly while pressing down on the inhaler. Another way to use an HFA inhaler is by using a spacer, which is a tube attached to the mouthpiece and the medicine container. Using a spacer is easier for getting the full dose of medication to the lungs.
This is a newer inhaler that has a pre-measured amount of medicine in a slow-moving mist designed for inhaling the medicine. The patient is supposed to put their mouth around the mouthpiece while horizontally holding the device. It is important to not cover the air vents while doing so.
The functionality of a DPI is similar to that of HFA inhalers; however, instead of a liquid mist puff, its releases a dry powder puff. One should not use a DPI with a spacer. The inhaling needs to be rapid and steady and the device should be removed from the mouth while exhaling.
Nebulizers are like inhalers, except they are not portable. There are different supplies required to use a nebulizer. These supplies are air compressor, nebulizer cup, mask or a mouthpiece, medication, and compressor tubing. Patient needs to measure the medicine in a cup and attach it to the machine. Post this, the patient can turn the device on and breathe the mist through the mask or mouthpiece.
- Portable oxygen concentrators
- COPD patients who wish to have a portable oxygen device that is lightweight and affordable can go for portable oxygen concentrators. These devices can be used with batteries or electricity. The concentrator purifies the air it receives, separates the oxygen, and delivers the oxygen to the patient. These devices are also FAA-approved (Federal Aviation Association) for use on airplanes.
- Some companies that make portable oxygen concentrators are Philips, Inogen, SeQual, and Respironics.
- CPAP machines
- CPAP is an effective treatment for sleep apnea; however, people who have COPD also use CPAP therapy. A CPAP machine is a small box with a motorized fan inside. The fan takes the air from its surrounding, pressurizes it, and then delivers it to the patient as per their specific requirement. Those using CPAP machines may need to get new CPAP supplies upon using the machine for some months. The supplies can be bought from online stores such as CPAP Supply USA, The CPAP Shop, and ResMed.