Chapter 7 : Surviving COPD And Its Effects On Your Life

As we’ve talked about, one of the key elements to surviving chronic bronchitis and emphysema is to get help as soon as you realize that you are ill.  That means seeking your doctor’s attention and asking for the right tests if you have experienced bronchitis more than two times per year or you are a smoker (or live in a smoking house.)

But, how is a condition like this actually treated?

There are several key things that need to be taken into consideration here.

Quality Of Life

One of the largest factors facing those that suffer from chronic bronchitis and emphysema is that of quality of life.  As the disease moves from being an irritating cough to being in its advanced stages, it gets harder and harder to maintain the things that you enjoy doing. 

At first, you can’t catch your breath.  As it moves through its seriousness, you may need to use an oxygen supplement and many will eventually need a mechanical respiratory to provide them with assistance.

Most that suffer from this condition face limits in the physical exertion they can put out, their ability to do chores around the house, their ability to be social and to engage in family activities and they severely lack the ability to work as they used to.

The Job OF Medications

There is no cure for chronic bronchitis.  There is no cure for emphysema.  There is no way to reverse the damage that has been done to your lungs and bronchial tubes because of these conditions.

The medications that are used to treat chronic bronchitis is designed to aid in several things, though.  First, it can slow the amount of deterioration that happens in the lungs so that the disease does not progress as fast as it would have without the medications. 

In addition, medications are used to treat the symptoms of chronic bronchitis.  This means providing relief to the vast number of symptoms you face including coughing and the inability to do many things. 

Finally, medications are used to stop additional complications from happening to you.

Symptom Medication

In order to provide you with some relief from not being able to breath easily, your doctor is likely to provide you with a medication called bronchodilator type medications.  These are prescription medications that help to relax your bronchial tubes and allow your air passageways to open up allowing for better passage of air through them.

Medications like this are essential to keeping you symptom free or even just lessening the frequency and intensity of those symptoms.  Most are taken as inhalers as sprays but there are additional medications that can be prescribed to be taken orally.


Another type of medication used to treat chronic bronchitis is that of antibiotics.  As we mentioned earlier, acute bronchitis doesn’t react to antibiotics because it is usually caused by a virus.  But, chronic bronchitis is not necessarily unaffected by medications like this.

Antibiotics can be used if there is evidence that there is a secondary infection.  In addition, antibiotics can be used to help prevent additional symptoms and conditions from happening.


Systemic glucocorticosteroids are another treatment option for those that are suffering from these conditions.  This type of treatment is still one that is being experimented with, but has shown some progress in helping to provide relief from symptoms as well as to slow progression. 

Usually, though, this type of treatment is only used on patients that have an acute case because these medications shouldn’t be used over a long period of time with any frequency because of the side effects that they have.


Those that suffer from chronic bronchitis and/or emphysema will need to have pneumonia and flu vaccines each year.  This can be an excellent way to keep additional respiratory illnesses at bay, thereby not worsening the symptoms and conditions that you face.


In some cases, transplantation of the damaged lungs can be an option.  Lung transplantation has shown significant improvement over the last few years.  Those that suffer from this condition often have some ability to qualify for this type of treatment.  Those that have a lung volume reduction surgery have shown significant improvement in their condition.

Yet, it is not for everyone.  Some patients that suffer from problems with the exchange of gasses in their lungs do not do well with lung transplantations and therefore it is not considered an option for everyone that suffers from emphysema or chronic bronchitis.

The good news is that there are other hopes available to those that are suffering from chronic bronchitis and emphysema.  You can improve your health through improvements in your daily lifestyle.  And, if you visit your doctor when you become ill, you cut the amount of progression of the condition severely, improving your overall longevity.

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