The treatment must be focused in the first place on the patient giving up tobacco.
Once the patient has left, the specialist may prescribe bronchodilators to improve symptoms and anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the number of crises.
The main problem of patients with COPD being treated with inhalers is that they sometimes need to perform the technique correctly, so the medication often does not go where it needs to go and is not as effective as it should be. According to Myriam Calle, a pulmonologist member of Separ, “reviewing the technique that the patient has is essential to avoid inappropriate use of the therapy.”
Another difficulty in adhering to this treatment is that some patients have to use several inhalers with different molecules. However, this problem has largely disappeared or will disappear thanks to the launch of extra-fine fixed triple therapy, which “simplifies the technique a lot because there are three drugs in a single device,” reports Calle.
Currently, up to 40 per cent of patients on inhaled therapy do not adhere to their medication. Hence the importance of extra-fine fixed triple therapy since it dramatically simplifies the technique because there are three drugs in a single device.
This therapeutic novelty is especially indicated for patients who are not severely ill but who decompensate easily and are poorly controlled.
In patients with more advanced diseases, oxygen therapy will be required in many cases.
Healthy eating for COPD patients
Although air and food are the two essential elements that every human needs to live, patients with obstructive pulmonary disease need them in a particular way. In the same way that they must adopt specific measures to improve the quality of the air they inhale and try to abandon harmful habits and conditions, they also have to eat according to the rules of what is known as a healthy and balanced diet.
In this case, the main reason for proper nutrition is that a well-nourished body strengthens the person against possible infections and prevents diseases that would only complicate obstructive disease, favouring an increase in hospitalisations.
On the other hand, food provides, among other things, the energy necessary to carry out even the simple act of breathing; a person with COPD needs ten times more calories than one who is healthy. Below are some rules and advice on proper nutrition for COPD patients, without forgetting that the specialist doctor is the most suitable person to give the correct indications for each specific individual.
- You must eat foods from all groups: fruits, vegetables, dairy products, cereals, fibre, and proteins.
- Limit your intake of salt and caffeinated beverages.
- Avoid foods that cause gas or a feeling of heaviness.
- The day’s main meal should be done first thing in the morning to provide energy to the body.
- Opt for easy-to-prepare meals.
- Do not eat products of low nutritional value.
- If you use oxygen, do not stop while eating or immediately after: it provides an energy supply to carry out the digestive process.
- The act of eating must be done in a relaxed environment.
Living with the disease
Many patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease sometimes present with anxiety, depression and social isolation due to the limitations that the pathology imposes on them. The perception of their body changes, they feel more alone, a negative concept of the person is created, and, in many cases, a decrease in self-esteem appears. Many times it even changes the patient’s relationship with family and friends.
Pulmonary rehabilitation aims to combat, as far as possible, the adverse effects of COPD, combining training exercises with educational and behavioural programs to improve the patient’s daily life. In addition to improving daily activity, rehabilitation aims to make the patient independent.
A good health plan for anyone with chronic bronchitis should include, in addition to physical exercise, the following basic rules:
- Visit the doctor at any beginning of a cold or infection of the respiratory tract.
- The patient should ask the doctor if he should be vaccinated against influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia.
- Follow healthy habits: maintain a nutritious and balanced diet, maintain the correct weight, not smoke, and exercise.
- Participate in educational programs, which involve learning about the disease, the possibilities of treatment, its consequences, etc., to better deal with them. These classes also include various information: how the lung works, what medications are used to treat COPD, what oxygen therapy consists of, and how inhalers work, among other aspects.
- Receive psychological support from health professionals through individual educational programs or group treatments.