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COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a term that refers to two inflammatory lung conditions that reduce the amount of airflow to the lungs, leading to shortness of breath, wheezing, and a dry cough. It’s caused by a number of factors, including smoking and breathing in harmful chemicals over a sustained period of time.
Doctors have yet to discover a cure for COPD, but there are ways to treat the condition that should ease your symptoms and provide more stability. This can help you to have a better quality of life.
The most common devices used to treat COPD are as follows:
Inhalers and nebulizers
Inhalers and nebulizers are devices that are used to get medicine straight into your lungs. Being the portable option, inhalers are popular for more constant use. You can be prescribed an inhaler by your doctor for long-term use. Nebulizers, on the other hand, are still used at home, but they’re not portable, so you won’t be able to carry around with you. Your doctor may recommend one type of device over the other, but generally, inhalers deliver medication more quickly, making them the more common option.
Inside an inhaler, you may be given one of several medications. Bronchodilators are frequently used to relax the muscles in your airways, which help to increase airflow to your lungs and ease wheezing and coughing. Steroids may also be used to soothe inflammation, which prevents swelling and infection.
One side effect of COPD is not having enough oxygen in your blood. You can use a portable device to deliver oxygen directly into your blood, which it can do automatically after measuring your oxygen levels with a sensor. These generally run on batteries and take air from the room, converting it into concentrated oxygen while eliminating other gases. Visit sensoronics.com for more information on how oxygen sensors can be used to treat COPD patients.
Many people with COPD choose to use oxygen while they’re exercising or sleeping. If it makes you feel more comfortable, you can use it all the time. This is an easy way to improve your quality of life and can even extend your lifespan. In many cases you can travel while using portable oxygen, providing you discuss the option with your doctor first. If you’re flying, you’ll also need to make arrangements ahead of time with your airline.
If common medical devices don’t help to relieve your COPD symptoms, you may be offered surgery to improve your condition. One option is a lung volume reduction surgery, in which your damaged lung tissue is removed, creating a larger environment for your healthier lung tissue to grow.
You may also be offered a lung transplant, in cases where your lungs are too unhealthy to operate on. Transplants are major operations, and there’s a criteria you must meet for surgery, but if they’re completed successfully, they can greatly improve your breathing ability. In all cases, surgery is generally considered a last resort for people with COPD, and is only used when medications alone do not successfully treat the disease.