None of the drugs used in COPD can stop the disease itself. The drugs are mainly used to reduce the daily problems.
Medicines can relieve
Sometimes you can also get medication to reduce the number of periods when you feel worse. The periods are called exacerbations. They often cause severe discomfort and are a major problem for some people with COPD. The deterioration periods are usually due to respiratory infections.
You usually do not notice any problems if you have a mild form of COPD. Then you do not need to take any medicine at all, apart from those used for smoking cessation.
The different types of drugs used in COPD are the following:
- special medicines for periods of deterioration
There are different types of drugs that you inhale through an inhaler. The drugs dilate the trachea and make the muscles in the trachea relax, reduce cough, mucus and improve lung function.
Your perceived symptoms control the choice of medication. There are different types of inhalers and it is important that you get to try out the type that suits you and that you get to learn how it works.
Cortisone can help when the disease becomes more severe
You sometimes need cortisone in combination with drugs that dilate the trachea if you have moderate to severe COPD and have recurring periods of worsening. You inhale the cortisone through an inhaler.
- You can get cortisone in tablet form as a short-term treatment during periods of deterioration. The treatment can shorten such periods. However, you should avoid using cortisone tablets regularly as the side effects can be severe.
Other drugs for periods of deterioration
- You can sometimes get a medicine with the active substance roflumilast. You get it if you have moderate or severe COPD and have periods of deterioration with a lot of problems with mucus.
- Acetylcysteine is used in some people as an expectorant during periods of deterioration. It is not scientifically proven that the drug has an expectorant effect.
You evaluate the results
It is important that you, together with your COPD nurse or your doctor, make an evaluation of each medicine that you are allowed to try. Examination with spirometry can provide some guidance, but most important is how you feel.
Oxygen in hospital or at home
You may need oxygen therapy in a hospital if you get worse and have a temporary lack of oxygen in your blood. Oxygen is used to reduce the strain on the body but does not help with shortness of breath.
You may need oxygen therapy at home if you have severe COPD with a constant lack of oxygen in the blood. Oxygen treatment in the home is only given if you do not smoke, as oxygen carries a fire risk.