COPD Treatment

COPD symptoms can get worse quickly if not treated or treated correctly. Although COPD has no cure, lifestyle changes and treatments can help relieve the symptoms and slow disease progression.

You may be advised to do, or take, some of the following:

Lifestyle changes

  • Smoking is the main cause of COPD. Quitting smoking is essential, and avoiding second-hand smoke can also help to prevent disease progression. There are programs (like support groups) and products that may help with stopping to smoke.
  • Avoid places with dust, fumes, or chemicals.
  • Keep physical activity to a level that is safe for you, with your doctor’s guidance (i.e., if you have severe COPD, take an elevator instead of climbing stairs).
  • In severe cases, eating can be hampered by shortness of breath and fatigue. You may not get all the necessary calories and nutrients. Your doctor may suggest that you eat more frequent meals and in smaller amounts, and take vitamins and supplements.

COPD medications

  • Bronchodilators relax the muscles around airways to help make breathing easier, and often are used with an inhaler or nebulizer, so the medication is taken directly into the lungs. Depending on the stage of your COPD (mild, moderate or severe), you may take short-acting (last 4-6 hours and should be taken when needed) or long-acting (last about 12 hours or more and are used everyday) bronchodilators.
  • A combination of bronchodilators and inhaled glucocorticosteroids (steroids) can be prescribed in cases of severe COPD or frequent symptom flares. Steroids help to reduce airway inflammation.
  • Flu and pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccines may be recommended for COPD patients because of complications caused by the flu and the higher risk of pneumonia that accompanies this disease. Patients are advised to talk with their doctor about yearly or regular vaccinations.

Lung therapy

  • Oxygen therapy is given when oxygen levels in the blood are low. This COPD treatment supplies extra oxygen through nasal prongs, a mask or breathing tube.
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation is a broad program that usually combines education, exercise training, nutrition advice, and counseling. It aims to improve the quality of life, shorten and lessen hospitalizations, and increase a person’s ability to manage daily life activities.

Surgery for COPD

Surgery may be recommended for people with forms of severe COPD, including emphysema, that are not improved with medicines. The three types used as treatment, with the first two most common in emphysema, are:

  • Bullectomy. As this disease destroys the walls of air sacs, air spaces called bullae form and can enlarge to the point that they affect breathing. In a bullectomy, one or more bullae are removed to help air flow.
  • Lung volume reduction. In this surgery, small sections of damaged lung tissue are removed to create extra space, so that healthier lung tissue can expand and the diaphragm is able to work more efficiently.
  • Lung transplant. This surgery involves certain risks, including organ rejection, and it requires a lifelong reliance on  immune-suppressing medication (prevent the immune system to attack the transplanted organ).


COPD News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.



American Lung Association

Mayo Clinic

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute