Avoid Smoking With COPD
In chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), two lung diseases make breathing more difficult. Chronic bronchitis inflames and narrows airways (bronchi) and makes phlegm, while emphysema destroys parts of the lungs. If you smoke, quitting smoking can prevent more damage to your lungs. Even secondhand smoke can worsen COPD, so try avoiding it. For help with quitting smoking or avoiding secondhand smoke, talk to your doctor.
Bronchodilators for COPD
Your doctor may prescribe bronchodilators to help relax the muscles around your airways, making breathing easier. Short-acting bronchodilators provide brief relief fast, while long-acting bronchodilators can relieve constriction for a long time and are often used overnight. Bronchodilators are usually taken as an inhaled medication.
Corticosteroids for Inflammation
Corticosteroids, also called steroids, help reduce mucus production and inflammation in your lungs, making breathing easier. Most people with COPD take corticosteroids by inhaler, but sometimes they are taken in pill form. You may need to boost your calcium intake if you take steroids long-term, so talk with your doctor about whether you’ll need calcium supplements or a change in your diet.
Vaccines: Flu and Pneumonia
If you have COPD, you’re at higher risk for complications from infections like the flu and pneumonia. You’ll want to do all you can to reduce your risk of illness. You should get vaccinated against seasonal flu every year and receive a pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccine with a booster shot as needed.
COPD Infections and Antibiotics
Infections can aggravate your COPD. (Here, pneumonia-causing bacteria are seen in blue on the lung’s air sacs.) If you do get a bacterial infection, your doctor will recommend antibiotics. Always finish the entire course of antibiotics, even if you start to feel better earlier. If you stop taking an antibiotic too soon, the bacteria could become antibiotic-resistant, making it harder to treat your infection.