How to Manage Your COPD Medications

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a serious medical condition for which there is no cure. However, ongoing advances in medical technology and available medications give physicians more tools than ever to help slow its progression and improve your ability to lead an active, fulfilling life.

Dr. Benjamin A. Laracuente is a top-rated physician specializing in various lung disorders at his busy office, Tristate Pulmonary Medical Practice in Monaca, Pennsylvania, also serving the nearby Beaver and greater Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, region. Well-known for his commitment to providing patient-focused care, Dr. Laracuente creates personalized treatment programs that target COPD with the right medications at the right time.

Here’s what this highly skilled medical expert has to say about managing your COPD medications.   

Understanding the purpose of COPD medications

There are a variety of medicines available for COPD and understanding why Dr. Laracuente prescribes a certain medication can help with managing your COPD.

These medications often include:

Bronchodilators

When you breathe, air from your nose and mouth travels into the windpipe and then passes into tiny airways in your lungs known as bronchi or bronchial tubes. Bronchodilators relax muscles around your bronchi so that they open or dilate, which makes it easier to breathe and to expel the excess mucus that’s often associated with COPD.

Some bronchodilators act within minutes but results only last four to six hours. Other bronchodilators, often called maintenance inhalers, take longer to work but help open your airways for 12-24 hours. These medications are available in pocket-sized inhalers or in liquid form that’s turned into an inhalable mist via a device known as a nebulizer machine.

Anti-inflammatory medication

Also known as corticosteroids, anti-inflammatories used for COPD decrease inflammation and swelling in your airways. They’re usually premixed with the bronchodilators in your inhalers or nebulizing solution. If you’re having worsening symptoms, however, Dr. Laracuente may prescribe a short course of oral corticosteroids to take along with your inhaler.

Antibiotics

Individuals with COPD are often susceptible to respiratory conditions such as pneumonia that can quickly become life-threatening. When used at the first sign of a respiratory illness, antibiotics can help prevent worsening infection.

Vaccinations

Annual flu shots and two pneumonia vaccines, each required just once in a lifetime, are part of the standard treatment strategy for COPD.

Oxygen therapy

While not strictly a medication, supplemental oxygen may be required for advanced or worsening COPD.  

Following your personalized COPD treatment strategy

The symptoms and severity of COPD vary greatly among individuals. At Tristate Pulmonary Medical Practice, Dr. Laracuente designs your COPD treatment plan to fit your needs. It’s imperative that you become familiar with your medications and then carefully follow directions for use.

Your medication course, for example, may include a maintenance inhaler that’s used daily and a fast-acting (rescue) inhaler that’s used as needed during times of acute exacerbation. Know which is which and don’t skip the daily inhaler but recognize that it won’t give you fast relief when you’re struggling to breathe.

Other tips for managing COPD medications include:

At Tristate Pulmonary Medical Practice, we also offer pulmonary rehabilitation services, including nutritional counseling and exercise programs that provide additional benefits for individuals with COPD.

For an effective COPD treatment strategy designed for your needs, schedule a visit with Dr. Laracuente today. Call the office or book your appointment online. Note that we also provide telemedicine services.

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