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COPD - New Treatments

Updated on August 30, 2019
Pamela99 profile image

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

Smoking Can Cause COPD

Source

What is COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the lungs, which causes obstructive airflow. The main cause of this disease is smoking, but long term exposure to irritating matter or particulate also causes this disease. Autoimmune diseases may also cause COPD.

In the U.S. there are 12 million people with COPD and 120,000 die each year. The U.K.. has an estimated 1.2 million with COPD, and there are 251 million people worldwide with this disease. It is estimated that half of the people with COPD do not know they have that diagnosis. Men are 6 times more likely to die from this disease than women.

What is COPD?

Symptoms

Unfortunately, the symptoms of COPD do not usually appear until there is significant damage to the lungs. One type of COPD is bronchiectasis and I have been diagnosed with this disease. I never smoked but grew up with smoking parents. Additionally, I have systemic lupus and sjogren's disease, and bronchiectasis is common for these auto-immune diseases.

Typical symptoms for COPD according to Mayo Clinic include:

  • “Shortness of breath, especially during physical activities
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Having to clear your throat first thing in the morning, due to excess mucus in your lungs
  • A chronic cough that may produce mucus (sputum) that may be clear, white, yellow or greenish
  • Blueness of the lips or fingernail beds (cyanosis)
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Lack of energy
  • Unintended weight loss (in later stages)
  • Swelling in ankles, feet or legs”

Exacerbations are common for COPD patients, then symptoms become worse and antibiotics are often required. The influenza vaccine and pneumonia vaccines are imperative for someone with COPD.

Lung Anatomy

Source

COPD Treatments

COPD patients almost always have some type of inhaler for daily use and a rescue inhaler, such as Ventolin or Proventil for those occasions when they get very short of breath. The more serious COPD cases will be on supplemental oxygen. Corticosteroids, such as prednisone may be given orally or in an inhaler form. One recurring problem is infections, which are more difficult to treat when a patient is taking corticosteroids.

Types of inhaler treatments include:

  1. Bronchodilator that helps to open your airways by relaxing the airway muscles
  2. Corticosteroid that reduces inflammation in the lungs
  3. Combinations of different types of bronchodilators
  4. A bronchodilator and corticosteroid combination
  5. Rescue inhalers for emergency situations

Several studies have shown that less than half of people know how to correctly use an inhaler and the inhaler will not help you if it is improperly used. It is important to have your doctor show you the proper way to use your inhaler. Your mouth must be held tightly around the mouthpiece, and when you trigger the medication a deep breath is necessary until the mist has stopped.

COPD (& Emphysema) Explained Clearly

Some New Inhalers

There are numerous inhalers on the market with several new ones recently available.

They include:

  1. Trelegy Ellipta is the only inhaler with 3 medications. It was recently approved (10 µg fluticasone, an inhaled corticosteroid; 62.5 µg umeclidinium, a long-acting muscarinic antagonist; and 25 µg vilanterol, a long-acting β2-adrenergic agonist) for a once daily dose for chronic bronchitis or emphysema patients.
  2. Breo Ellipta is a combination of two medications: fluticasone furoate, an inhaled corticosteroid (ICS), and vilanterol, a long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist (a type of drug that relaxes the muscles around your airways and helps you clear mucus)
  3. Bevespi Aerosphere combines two long-acting bronchodilators for twice a day use that is for maintenance. Stiolto Respimat is another inhaler with similar medication and it is more affordable.
  4. Atrovent contains ipratropium, an anticholinergic bronchodilator. It is used in maintenance treatment of COPD.
  5. Pulmicort is an inhaler that contains budesonide, a corticosteroid to reduce inflammation.
  6. Arcapta Neohaler is the name for an indacaterol inhaler that is a very long-term inhaler used once daily for COPD. It is prescribed as a capsule or a dry-powder inhaler
  7. Tudorza Pressair is a long-acting bronchodilator used twice daily

Rescue Inhaler

Source

Nebulizer Treatments

Doctors will prescribe medications for nebulizer treatments for COPD flare-ups. The aerosol spray is aimed at reducing the number and severity of attacks. The drugs used in nebulizer treatments include bronchodilators, antibiotics, anticholinergics, corticosteroids and mucolytic agents.

I have used Ipratropium Bromide and Albuterol Sulfate Inhalation solution for flare-ups. This medication will leave you shakey for a while after the treatment, which I did not like. I found Acetylcysteine to be more effective without that side effect.

It is important to keep your nebulizer equipment clean. Always wash your hands before preparing your medicine. Close your mouth tightly around the mouthpiece with no gaps so the misting medicine gets deep into your lungs. Breathe in slowly, taking deep breaths until all the medicine is gone. It is also important to disinfect the tubing and mouthpiece after every other treatment.

Airway Clearance for Bronchiectasis

Vest Therapy

Vest therapy (high frequency chest compression) is being used by over 120,000 people who suffer from COPD, bronchiectasis, and even cystic fibrosis. This vest is attached to a machine. The vest is safe and the machine provides high-frequency oscillation for the inflatable vest. It actually performs physical therapy, which helps the patient clear secretions in the lungs. This helps prevent infection and hospitalizations. It is typically used twice daily for 30 minutes while you watch TV, use your computer or read a book.

In Summary

While COPD cannot be healed, it can be controlled with the variety of new inhalers, new medicine for nebulizers and vest therapy. It is important to use each one of these treatments exactly as prescribed for the best results. Reducing shortness of breath and the number of infections is worth that effort. Getting available pneumonia shots and the flu vaccine will also help prevent hospitalizations.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Pamela Oglesby

Comments

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  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 days ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Dianna, I am glad you found this information to be informative. Thank you for your comments.

  • teaches12345 profile image

    Dianna Mendez 

    7 days ago

    This is good information to know. I didn't realize it could happen to non-smokers. Sorry to hear of your illness. Praying you find best of help for this.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 days ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Ms Dora, I hope people do benefit from my article. I appreciate your comments.

  • MsDora profile image

    Dora Weithers 

    10 days ago from The Caribbean

    Thanks for the education. As you pointed out, there's no use having the device if it is not used properly. I am sure that many can benefit from your article.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 days ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Peg, That is so typical of someone who grew up with second-hand smoke and maybe had it after she was married. I am glad you found the article informative, and I appreciate your comments.

  • PegCole17 profile image

    Peg Cole 

    11 days ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

    This insightful and informative article answered quite a few questions for me. My mother suffered from this as a victim of second-hand smoke. She had a persistent cough, shortness of breath, lack of energy and other symptoms for years before it was diagnosed.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Alyssa, It is good to see new treatments as so many people have this disease. Thanks for your comments.

  • Alyssa Nichol profile image

    Alyssa 

    2 weeks ago from Ohio

    Oh wow! (I'm always interested in your articles, Pamela. I learn something new each time.) I didn't realize there were so many different types of inhalers. I also think it's awesome to see advances in treatment for COPD.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Peggy, This vest is ideal for people with cystic fibrosis. I had never heard of it until I saw my lung doctor. From what I found out in my research the vest has been around for about 9-10 years. My lung condition is fairly stable and I think this vest will help keep me off antibiotics.

    I appreciate all of your comments Peggy, and living in Houston I know you are aware of the damage hurricanes can cause. We have been fortunate in Jacksonville as the hurricanes don't seem to hit us head on, but we will get strong wind and a lot of rain this time. At least I think we will possibly get some damage and be without electricity for a while. Thank you for the prayers.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    2 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

    Both of my parents smoked when I was a child. I was never tempted and would never have married a man who smoked. Both of my parents gave it up later in life but my mother, who lived much longer than my dad, ended up with lung problems.

    Sorry to hear that you have COPD and other medical conditions as well. I hope that the vest helps. That must be fairly new? We once knew a young woman with cystic fibrosis and she did not use any type of vest therapy. This is another one of your informative medical articles.

    Stay safe in Florida during this Hurricane Dorian. Praying for you and others in its path.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Bill, My COPD is under pretty good control, but I appreciate your best wishes and your comments.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

    Thank you for the information, Pamela...and I am sorry to hear of your condition. Sending best wishes!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi FIourish, Unfortunately, lung disease is fairly common with Sjogren's Disease, but I was exposed to secondhand smoke as a child. People just didn't know better at that time. I appreciate your comments. Enjoy Labor Day!

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 

    2 weeks ago from USA

    I’m so sorry you have a form of COPD in addition to lupus and Sjogren’s. I worry about people who have been exposed to secondhand smoke as children, for example. They had no say in their exposure but bear significant potential risk. Thank you for presenting this information.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Liz, Your experience is typical of what I read as smoking is most often the cause of COPD. Thank you for your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Lora, I am sorry to hear about your father. It sound like he might have been one of those people who had COPD but was not diagnosed since he could not survive pneumonia. Smoking is such a difficult problem for some people even with the available patches, etc.

    Your comments almost make me blush Lora as they were so flattering. They are much appreciate. I can't do so many physical things I used to easily that I have just focused my attention differently now, just as you commented. I hope some peope will read this article that really need to quit smoking to save their lungs

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Linda, I do have COPD, but I am not nearly as sick as some people. Thank you for your concern and I am glad you found the iformation interesting. Have a good Labor Day weekend.

  • Eurofile profile image

    Liz Westwood 

    2 weeks ago from UK

    When I first came across this in the course of my work I had to check what the initials stood for. Since then I have come across advanced cases, mainly caused by smoking. You give a thorough explanation.

  • Lora Hollings profile image

    Lora Hollings 

    2 weeks ago

    This is such an extraordinary article, Pamela, on COPD. You have done such a thorough job of covering this topic! I learned a lot about this disease from reading your article. My father was a chain smoker and finally gave up smoking about the last 15 yrs of his life. Although he didn't have COPD, he just didn't have enough healthy lung tissue to get him through a pneumonia infection and died of pulmonary failure. If only people wouldn't smoke or stop it before they get a disease such as this, lung cancer or emphysema. You are awesome! You do so many things and write so many excellent articles that inform people about important health issues and wonderful short stories too. You inspire us all to do more with our lives and not let any disease hold us back! I hope many people share this article with others as more people need to know about this very serious disease and how even routine tasks become impossible to do.

  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 

    2 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

    Reading about the new treatments for COPD was interesting. I'm sorry that you have a form of COPD, Pamela. I hope the vest is very helpful for you.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Ruby, I think your experience is typical of so many people. I tried smoking but hated it right off the bat, so thankfully I didn't end up smoking. I am sorry to hear of your sister.

    The patches or even vaping nicotine has helped many people quit smoking. I appreciate your comments, Ruby.

  • always exploring profile image

    Ruby Jean Richert 

    2 weeks ago from Southern Illinois

    This is an important article, and very well explained. My sister virgie had COPD from smoking. She attempted to quit, but was unsuccessful. I started smoking when in high school, after all, I wanted to be in the IN crowd. I was able to quit with help. I used the nicotine patches. I can't stand to smell smoke now. I was fortunate not to have COPD.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Pop, Thank you so much for your kind comments.

  • breakfastpop profile image

    breakfastpop 

    2 weeks ago

    Your articles are helpful, informative and very important. I know people who suffer from this disease, and it is very difficult for them.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi RTalloni, It is important to adhere to the prescription for good results. I always appreciate your comments. Have a nice Labor Day weekend.

  • RTalloni profile image

    RTalloni 

    2 weeks ago from the short journey

    Clearly, a COPD diagnosis requires a careful education. Thank you for this look at managing it and for sharing some of your experience with the medicines to help both those with it and the family members helping them. Not understanding the tips you offer could result in serious issues.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Vivian, I certainly saw a lot of patients with serious lung issues. Then, having a milder form of this problems gives me more personal experience. Thank you so much for your comments.

  • Noelle7 profile image

    Vivian Coblentz 

    2 weeks ago

    I am so glad new options are becoming available to manage this condition and give hope to those who suffer with it. I can't imagine how scary it would be not to be able to catch your breath! Your first-hand experience combined with your nursing background really lends authority to your voice in this article.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Lorna, I agree that inhalers can be confusing as there are so many, and they tend to be very expensive. I was on one for a while that had a copay of $300 a month, and if you are on other medications it really adds up.

    My COPD is under good control at this time, but it does take following the doctor's prescribed medications. I appreciate you generous comments. Have a nice Labor day weekend.

  • Lorna Lamon profile image

    Lorna Lamon 

    2 weeks ago

    Just a terrible condition Pamela and I watched my Uncle suffer with this for years due to a 50 packet a day habit. I am so glad you have a strong family support and you are managing your condition. Your article is thorough and gives lots of useful advice, in particular on the various inhalers, which can be a little confusing for some people. Your own experience with COPD makes this information invaluable.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Linda, We are in Jacksonville and not leaving. We have a solid brick house and I think we will get wind and rain, but hopefully not much more as it looks like the storm will his fairly far south. We are watching all the updates carefully.

    When I am at rest my oxygen leve is 97% but I do cough a lot. I think the vest will be kind of a pain, but I do think it will help we clear my lungs. I am on antibiotics too frequently, so I hope it will help.

    I am thankful for your concern and hope I will be around for several more years. There are many people worse off then me. Thanks you for your friendship and your comments as I treasure you as well.

  • Carb Diva profile image

    Linda Lum 

    2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

    Pamela, I have never smoked. My dad was a 2-pack a day (Winstons) and seeing what it did to him was enough to turn me off. Sadly I lost him way too soon because of his addiction. Thank you for shedding light on this condition. I pray that your treatments give you some relief. I appreciate your friendship and want you around for a long, long time.

    I don't know what part of Florida you live in, but I will also include you in my prayers for safety this weekend.

  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 

    2 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    Love

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    I appreciate your prayers Eric and you are in mine as well. I love our friendship and what we all did in the past doesn't matter now as we just have to live for this day. You and I both have much to be thankful for and that is wonderful.

  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 

    2 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    Pamela I think I mislead you. If there was a smoke to smoke I smoked it, if there was a drug to take I took two doses, if there was a drink to drink I had 1,000.

    Just the grace of God that all that is behind me and I look forward to at least my '90's.

    Now you go get that treatment and take it on. Great time for me. In praying for you, my knees do not hurt at all. Must be because of your love.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Eric, I can assure you no one wants to hear me sing! LOL

    I hope Round-up is not a problerm for you. I have COPD and get short of breath when I walk sometimes, but I do not need oxygen, thank goofdness. I just got fitted for the vest though and respiratory therapy comes tomorrow to help set it up. I never smoked either and I am glad to hear you did not smoke. I guess when we have these health problems we take life a day at a time and trust God. The love of family helps, and you have made that so clear to me. Thank you for commenting my friend.

  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 

    2 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    Oh my! I would just freak out if I could not breath well. So glad I do not smoke or have exposure anymore. But now the experts tell me that Roundup might still get me from over 8 years ago.

    I think singing may help is such matters.

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