Moderate to Severe COPD

Confidently Managing Moderate to Severe COPD

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, more commonly known as COPD, is a progressive lung disease that affects millions of Americans. COPD is most commonly caused by smoking and leads to is decreased airflow and difficulty breathing. People with COPD typically experience symptoms like shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing.

COPD is classified as mild, moderate, severe, or very severe. Moderate to Severe COPD is defined as an FEV1/FVC (Forced Expiratory Volume in one second/Forced Vital Capacity) ratio of 40-55%. Patients with this level of COPD typically have symptoms such as frequent shortness of breath, exercise intolerance, fatigue, cough with sputum and frequent exacerbations (flare-ups) that can lead to hospitalization.

Fortunately, there are several treatments available to help manage the symptoms of Moderate to Severe COPD. Here are some key interventions to consider:

1. Getting Vaccinated

Vaccines are an important way to reduce the risk of severe COPD flare-ups and hospitalizations. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is recommended that adults with COPD get vaccinated for the flu and pneumonia. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute suggests that people receiving long-term oxygen therapy should also get a pneumococcal vaccine.

2. Adopting Lifestyle Changes

There are a few lifestyle changes that can be beneficial when living with COPD. These may include quitting smoking for good, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, and getting regular exercise. Exercise can help improve lung function, build muscle, and reduce anxiety and depression. People with COPD should work with their healthcare team to develop a safe and effective exercise plan.

3. Taking COPD Medications

There are many types of medications that can help to manage COPD symptoms. Short-acting bronchodilators are often the first line of treatment for COPD, to help reduce episodes of chest tightness and difficulty breathing. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may also recommend long-acting bronchodilators, corticosteriods, or antibiotics. It’s important to take all prescribed medications as directed.

4. Using Oxygen Therapy

Oxygen therapy can be an effective way to manage the symptoms of COPD. This treatment helps people with COPD to get the oxygen their lungs need to function more effectively. Talk to your doctor to determine if oxygen therapy may be right for you.

Living with Moderate to Severe COPD can be a challenge, but with the right lifestyle changes, medications, and treatments, you can manage your symptoms. It’s important to work with your healthcare team to develop a plan that works for you.