Treatment for COPD

Your healthcare provider will prescribe the best treatments for your COPD.


Recommendations include:

  • Medicines. Some medicines help ease symptoms when you have them. Others are taken daily to control lung inflammation. Always take your medicines as prescribed. Learn the names of your medicines, as well as how and when to use them. Talk with your provider about other conditions you have and the medicines you take. When using a metered dose inhaler or nebulizer, always use the correct techniques. If you have any questions about how to use your medicine delivery system, contact your healthcare provider or refer to the user manual of the device.

  • Tests. To monitor COPD risks, your provider may advise a blood test or sputum test for eosinophil count, or bronchodilator reversibility testing. The World Health Organization advises that all people with COPD be screened once for alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD).

  • Surgery. Your healthcare provider may advise that you have a lung volume reduction surgery, a bullectomy, or a lung transplant.

  • Oxygen therapy. Oxygen may be prescribed if tests show that your blood contains too little oxygen. Ask about long-term oxygen therapy with your healthcare provider.

  • Smoking. If you smoke, quit. Smoking is the main cause of COPD. Quitting will help you be able to better manage your COPD. Also don't use e-cigarettes or vaping products. Ask your healthcare provider about ways to help you quit smoking.

  • Not getting infections. Infections such as a cold or the flu can cause your symptoms to get worse. Try to stay away from people who are sick. Wash your hands often. And ask your healthcare provider about vaccines for the flu and pneumonia.

Coping with shortness of breath

Coping tips include:

  • Exercise. Be as active as you can. This will help your energy and strengthen your muscles, so you can do more.

  • Breathing methods. Ask your healthcare provider or nurse to show you how to do pursed-lip breathing.

  • Pollution. Stay away from both indoor and outdoor pollution. Indoor pollution includes things such as burning wood, smoke from home cooking, and heating fuels. Outdoor pollution includes things such as dusts, vapors, fumes, gases, and other chemicals.

  • Balance rest and activity. Try to balance rest with activity. For example, you might start the day with getting dressed and eating breakfast. Then you can relax and read the paper. After that, take a brief walk. And then sit with your feet up for a while.

  • Pulmonary rehab.  Community-based and home-based programs work as well as hospital-based programs as long as they are done as often and as intensely. Standard home-based pulmonary rehab programs help with dyspnea in people with COPD. Supervised, traditional pulmonary rehab remains the standard of care and best option for people with COPD. These programs help manage your disease, breathing methods, exercise, support, and counseling. To find one, ask your provider or call your local hospital. Also talk with your healthcare provider about which rehab or self-management program is best for you.

  • Healthy eating. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important to staying as healthy as possible. So is staying at your ideal weight. Being overweight or underweight can have affect your health. Make sure you have a lot of fruits and vegetables every day. And also eat balanced portions of whole grains, lean meats and fish, and low-fat dairy products.

© 2000-2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.