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Oxygen + COPD

Treatment Overview

Although COPD cannot be cured, it can be managed. The goals of treatment are to:

  • Slow down the disease by avoiding tobacco smoke and air pollution.
  • Limit your symptoms, such as shortness of breath.
  • Increase your activity level.
  • Improve your overall health.
  • Prevent and treat flare-ups . A flare-up, or exacerbation, is when your symptoms quickly get worse and stay worse.

Many people are able to manage their COPD well enough to take part in their usual daily activities, hobbies, and family events.

Tips to Help With Treatment

At first, treatment for COPD helps you breathe better and slow the disease. Much of the treatment includes things you do for yourself:

  • Quit smoking. This is so important. And it's never too late. No matter how long you have had COPD or how serious it is, quitting smoking will help slow down the disease and improve your quality of life. Today's medicines offer lots of help for people who want to quit. You will double your chances of quitting even if medicine is the only treatment you use to quit, but your odds get even better when you combine medicine and other quit strategies, such as counseling.1
  • Stay active. If you stay active, you may have less shortness of breath, have a better attitude about your life and the disease, and be less likely to feel depressed or isolated from friends and family. Exercise improves shortness of breath and will help you be more active.
  • Stay healthy. The flu, pneumonia, and other illnesses involving your lungs can make your COPD worse. Do your best to avoid them:
    • Wash your hands often.
    • Stay away from people who have a cold or the flu.
    • Talk with your doctor about getting a yearly flu vaccine and a pneumococcal shot. If you've already had one pneumococcal shot, ask your doctor if you should have a second shot. Sometimes a second shot is advised for people who got their first shot when they were younger than 65.
  • Eat regularly and well. Muscle weakness and weight loss are common with severe COPD. And they make it harder for your body to fight the disease.
  • Avoid triggers. Stay away from things that can trigger a flare-up, including indoor and outdoor air pollution, cold dry air, hot humid air, and high altitudes.
  • Learn how to breathe. Learn ways to breathe that improve airflow in and out of your lungs. Learn ways to clear your lungs to save energy and oxygen.
  • Rest often. Take rest breaks during household chores and other activities. Talk to an occupational or physical therapist about finding ways to do everyday activities with less effort.
  • Oxygen treatment: Oxygen treatment is mainly used to prevent right-sided heart failure or keep it from getting worse.