Treating and Managing COPD


When a person is diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the next step is to create a plan for treating and managing the disease and symptoms. Healthcare providers work with patients to craft a personalized treatment plan just for them. To design the plan, they use general COPD treatment guidelines that have been developed by experts after years of research about the best ways to treat the disease.

Each patient’s personal COPD treatment plan is unique, because each patient can have a different medical history and set of current symptoms. The treatment plan might include:

What kinds of medications are used to treat COPD?1

Patients with COPD are usually prescribed medications that can help to:

  • Control and relieve COPD symptoms
  • Prevent and treat COPD flare-ups
  • Slow the progress of the disease

Most COPD patients have at least one medication, and many patients have several different medicines that work in different ways. The types of medications that are often used to treat COPD include:

What kinds of natural remedies do some COPD patients use?2

Some COPD patients use natural remedies as “complementary” therapies to help reduce COPD symptoms. They are “complementary” because they are used in addition to the patient’s regular prescription medications and therapies, not instead of them. Some of the natural remedies used by COPD patients are:

What is oxygen therapy?3

The damage caused by COPD can prevent the lungs from absorbing enough oxygen during the process of breathing. This can cause the level of oxygen in a patient’s blood to be too low. Some patients with COPD need oxygen therapy to supply extra oxygen to their lungs, to make sure that they have enough oxygen in the bloodstream.

During this therapy, the oxygen is usually delivered from a container through a facemask or through small tubes in the nostrils. Some patients need long-term oxygen therapy all or most of the time. Other patients only need short-term oxygen therapy to treat an infection or flare-up.

What kinds of surgery can be used to treat COPD?4

Surgery is a treatment option for some COPD patients. It is more common among patients who have a more advanced stage of disease. The types of surgeries that can be used to treat COPD are:

  • Bullectomy
  • Lung volume reduction surgery
  • Lung transplant

What is a pulmonary rehabilitation program?5

Taking part in a pulmonary rehabilitation program is very important for COPD patients. During the program, patients learn lots of useful information about the disease, and about how to control and manage their symptoms.

A typical pulmonary rehabilitation program includes advice about:

  • Breathing strategies
  • Starting and following an exercise routine
  • Weight management
  • Planning nutritious meals
  • Staying hydrated
  • Lifestyle changes for preventing infections and COPD flare-ups
  • Quitting smoking
  • Avoiding allergens and irritants
  • Vaccinations
  • Practicing good hygiene, such as hand washing, cleaning equipment regularly, and good dental health
  • Creating a COPD management plan
  • Preparing for emergencies
  • Coping with the emotional impact of COPD
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view references
  1. Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD). Global Strategy for the Diagnosis, Management and Prevention of COPD, 2014. Available at: [Accessed 16 January 2015.]
  2. American Lung Association. “Complementary Therapies for COPD.” Available at: [Accessed 10 March 2015.]
  3. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. “What is Oxygen Therapy?” Available at:­topics/topics/oxt/ [Accessed 1 March 2015.]
  4. American Lung Association. “Surgery.” Available at: [Accessed 1 March 2015.]
  5. American Lung Association. “What is Pulmonary Rehabilitation?” Available at:­topics/topics/pulreh/ [Accessed 3 March 2015.]
View Written By | Review Date
Written by: Anna Nicholson | Last reviewed: July 2015.
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