Lung and respiratory problems

COPD

(Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis)

  • Also known as
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

About COPD

COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) makes it hard for you to breathe. The two main types are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The main cause of COPD is long-term exposure to substances that irritate and damage the lungs. This is usually cigarette smoke. Air pollution, chemical fumes, or dust can also cause it.

At first, COPD may cause no symptoms or only mild symptoms. As the disease gets worse, symptoms usually become more severe. They include

  • A cough that produces a lot of mucus
  • Shortness of breath, especially with physical activity
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness

Doctors use lung function tests, imaging tests, and blood tests to diagnose COPD. There is no cure. Treatments may relieve symptoms. They include medicines, oxygen therapy, surgery, or a lung transplant. Quitting smoking is the most important step you can take to treat COPD.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Symptoms of COPD
  • A cough that produces a lot of mucus
  • Shortness of breath, especially with physical activity
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness

Top Medications for COPD according to our users

Button Group. All currently active

All Medications for COPD

  • Antibiotic > Macrolide

    • Azithromycin
      Prescription only

      Zithromax (Azithromycin) is good for treating many bacterial infections. It is also available as generic. Talk to your doctor if you've ever had liver disease, myasthenia gravis, or on medications to thin the blood, as the doctor may write an alternative.

      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
      • Liquid
      • Eye drops
  • Antibiotic > Sulfonamide

  • Antibiotic > Penicillin

    • Amoxicillin
      Prescription only

      Amoxil (Amoxicillin) is a good and cheap antibiotic to treat many types of bacterial infections. However, many bacteria are resistant to this medication.

      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
      • Chewable tablet
      • Liquid
  • Antibiotic > Fluoroquinolone

    • Cipro
      (Ciprofloxacin)
      Prescription only

      Cipro (Ciprofloxacin) is a good and cheap antibiotic to treat many types of bacterial infections. However, you have to reduce your caffeine intake, and have to protect yourself from the sun.

      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
      • Extended release
      • Infusion (IV)
    • Levaquin
      (Levofloxacin)
      Prescription only

      Levaquin (Levofloxacin) is good for treating many bacterial infections and is available as generic. However, it can cause damage to your tendons, and make your skin more sensitive to the sun.

      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
      • Liquid
  • Anti-inflammatory, Immunosuppressant > Corticosteroid

    • Prednisone
      Prescription only

      Deltasone (Prednisone) is a common oral corticosteroid that's great for controlling the unwanted symptoms from your immune responses and will make you feel better. There are lots of side effects but most of are tolerable or can be managed.

      • Available dosage forms:
      • Pill
      • Extended release
      • Liquid

Beta agonist

  • Terbutaline
    Prescription only

    Brethine (Terbutaline) is effective at preventing asthma attacks, but isn’t the first choice. It’s generally well-tolerated, but let your doctor know if you feel more lightheaded or have a rapid heartbeat while taking this medicine.

    Was it worth it?
    • Available dosage forms:
    • Pill

Medication side effects for COPD

These are some of the most common side effects from clinical trials for headache.

  • Azithromycin: 1%
  • Combivent: 8%
0 of 100

At this end, no one is expected to have headache

100 of 100

At this end, almost everyone is expected to have headache

Tips, success stories, and coping strategies for COPD

What tip would you give someone like me who was just diagnosed?
  • Make sure to take the medication as prescribed. I also have to use a cpap machine because I quit breathing 54 times in 5 minutes.
  • The stages of COPD are just labels. Be a rebel. Don't think about them at all. Just live each day to the fullest.
  • Small, frequent meals are best for people with COPD. You don't want to have a full tummy, or acid reflux.
  • If you can get into a pulmonary rehabilitation program, you will learn so much about your illness and how to properly exercise!
  • Exercise! Keeping those muscles well oxygenated will be a HUGE benefit to you!
What’s your best coping strategy?
  • Cpap machine and breathing exercises. I read and write poetry and review books
  • Don't look at COPD as the dark scary thing that ruined your life. This is just a new chapter in your life. Take the time to enjoy the little things we tend to take for granted when we are healthy. Take time off of work, relax, travel, read, learn something new. There are many online classes you can take for FREE! Spend time doing what you love.
  • Always be thankful for what you still have. I look at my beautiful children and grandchildren and it perks me right up.
  • Join a support group! Support groups can be in person or online and you will be surrounded with people that have the exact same struggles you have. There is always a kind person to talk to at any hour if you join online support groups.
  • When one is first diagnosed, depression is very common. Music is a great escape, or a long walk.
Besides medications, what else has worked for you?
  • Cpap machine
  • Avoiding infections is super important. It is OKAY to ask friends and family to not visit until they are feeling well. Also, ask for help with shopping so you are not in a public place so frequently.
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation helped me learn more about COPD, exercise, and I lost 20 pounds! Losing weight is a real struggle when you don't feel confident about exercising. Rehab will help with that.
  • Spiriva has been the best for me. I have had insurance issues and had to switch off of it a few times. Each time, I suffered like I was taking nothing to help me. And each time, I have lost lung function. It a medication is working well for you, don't agree to change it unless you are prepared for this possibility.