Carolyn's Collection

Medications for COPD
part one
"Breathlessness, cough, mucus, and fatigue are all symptoms of COPD.
Medications cannot cure COPD - but they can help relieve these symptoms.
When your symptoms are under control, you'll feel better. Different types of medications treat different symptoms."

There are many types of meds out there that were originally developed for asthma but they have been found useful for COPD as well.

Generally when we first find out we have COPD we are in the middle of a bad infection of one sort or another.  They tend to throw  everything at us that they have to stabilize us.

They give us bronchodilators, of which there are two types,  one is fast acting and the other is for maintenance. The two should not be confused because if you try taking a maintenance med as a rescue you may end up in big trouble!

Albuterol or Ventolin and Proventil are examples of short acting dilators- they are fast acting and often used as rescue meds.

Serevent and Foradil are two of the maintenance dilators that work best when taken daily.  You may not notice an improvement immediately from these but it shows over time.

Two other bronchodilators are Atrovent and Spiriva,  again these are maintenance meds and should not be used for immediate relief.  Spiriva was actually made for people with emphysema so we now have a drug of our own!

Of course we all, well maybe not all, have heard of the dreaded Prednisone-  it is classed as an anti-inflammatory.   This can be used as both fast acting and maintenance depending on your dosage.  This is a steroid and not in the same class as  Motrin,  Aleve and such,  these are NSAID- Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs.

We all know about antibiotics to treat bacterial infections.

Another preventative is Flu and Pneumonia Vaccines.   Keep in mind these do NOT prevent all the various types of Flu and Pneumonia but are developed for what the scientist believe the strain will be for that season. But even if it won't prevent all strains, it will lessen many of the symptoms.

Then the brains that be decided to combine a couple of our meds in one inhaler, and gave us Advair which has Serevent, a maintenance med, and  Fluticasone(flovent) which is an inhaled steroid.
We also have Combivent which combines Albuterol and Atrovent.

Other inhaled Steroids are Fluticasone (Flovent)  Azmacort, Aerobid,
Pulmicort and Qvar.

Oral steroids are  Prednisone and Medrol. Medrol is a synthetic Prednisone and some people do better with it then the prednisone.

Now we come to the Anti-biotics which seems like there are new ones every other week but the ones used most often for lung infections are Avelox, Ceftin, Cipro, Levaquin, Tequin and Zithromax.   Like I said this list is not complete but most of us recognize the names of these drugs.

Last but not least is Oxygen.  Yes our O2 is considered a drug. You can not get it in medical form without a prescription.  How do you know if you need O2? 
Well, the only sure way to know is to have a 6 minute hall walk where you walk in circles or in my case squares attached to an Oximeter with someone timing and keeping track of your O2 Saturation at any given second. If at anytime during your walk your sats drop below 89 they stop you and let them rise back up and then put you on O2 at 2 litres per minute (lpm) and you start walking again.
The other way to know if you need O2 is by an ABG (arterial blood gas). 
I will not lie they can be painful but I have found if they are done in a clinical setting instead of an ER they are not near as bad!  I have actually had one that didn't hurt at all- she was finished before I knew she had started.   My hubby would not let me adopt her <sigh>

A quick reminder here about our O2,  it is prescribed and we should not change the settings without talking to our doctor about it first.  Some doctors will tell you that you can raise it for heavy exertion or you can sit without it but make sure you put it back to what you normally use when these activities are over.

There are more meds out there I am sure but these are the ones that
are most widely recognized for COPD.

Remember,  Growing old is mandatory but Growing up is optional
And Laughter is still the best Medicine!