Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a condition which affects the respiratory system, inhibiting breathing and inducing a phlegmy cough.
- Mainly caused by smoking
- Treatable with bronchodilator medicine
- Often given as a daily inhaler powder or capsule
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8 treatment(s) for COPD
- Adept at treating COPD
- Inhaled through a nebuliser
Not available from our pharmacy
- Soothes respiratory tension
- Reduces breathing difficulties
- Easy to use
- Effective bronchodilator
- Relieves symptoms such as breathlessness
- Not sold through our pharmacy
- Helps muscles in the airways to relax
- Facilitates easier breathing
- Keeps on working for up to 24 hours
- Easy to dispense inhaler capsule
- Proficient at alleviating symptoms
- Once a day treatment
- Long-acting bronchodilator
- Simple to administer
- Relieves breathing difficulties
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a term used to describe a number of conditions, including bronchitis, emphysema, and chronic obstructive airways disease. In the majority of cases, these conditions are induced by prolonged and repeated exposure to irritants, such as cigarette smoke, dust, fumes or other pollutants.
Typical symptoms of COPD include difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, a severe phlegmy cough, and wheezing, particularly during periods of exertion. It occurs when the lining of the airways becomes damaged through exposure to the above, resulting in inflammation and scarring, as well as the production of excess mucus. COPD is a progressive condition, which gets worse the longer it goes untreated.
It is estimated by the NHS that around 3 million people in the UK are currently living with the condition, but that only a third of these may have been accurately diagnosed, largely because it is easy to dismiss as smoker’s cough, and develops over a long period of time.
When treating the condition, a doctor will usually first address any lifestyle factors which are contributing to it. The most common is smoking. It is thought that around 25 per cent of all smokers will go on to develop COPD in some form. Therefore, a doctor will advise a patient to quit smoking as soon as possible to prevent the condition from progressing. They may also advise a patient to limit contact with any airborne toxins which may be responsible for exacerbating symptoms.
Medicines available for COPD include mucolytics and antimuscarinics. Mucolytics such as Mucodyne work by reducing the consistency of mucus in the airways, so it is easier for the patient to expel phlegm. The way antimuscarinics such as Seebri Breezhaler, Onbrez Breezhaler, Respontin and others work is to reduce tightness in the muscular lining of the respiratory passages. This helps them to dilate and allows for smoother breathing.
We do not provide treatments for COPD through our online service. Speak to your GP or respiratory nurse in person to find out more about the available medication options.
In most cases, the first measure a doctor will suggest to help reduce COPD symptoms will be to limit exposure to the irritant responsible. This may be encouraging the patient to quit smoking, or preventing contact with the pollutant causing it.
COPD is usually a progressive illness, but there are a number of different types of medication available to treat the symptoms of the condition, and to help prevent these from becoming worse. These work by reducing inflammation in the airways and increasing air flow, and may be given in the form of antimuscarinic capsules or powders which are taken through an inhaler (Seebri, Onbrez, Spiriva, Eklira Genuair), or a respirator solution (Ipratropium Steri Neb, Respontin). One other type of medicine a doctor may issue is a mucolytic, which is usually a tablet or syrup.
How do they work?
The treatments work by easing tension in the muscle walls of the airways and the lungs. They do this by reducing the sensitivity of acetylcholine receptors, and preventing these muscles from contracting. In doing so, they help to widen the airways and this facilitates easier breathing and lessens obstruction.
The function of mucolytics is slightly different. These work by lessening the density of mucus in the airways, so that it is easier for the patient to cough up.
What are the side effects?
It depends which medication you are using, but some side effects associated with COPD treatments include headache, coughing or increased heartbeat. Refer to the individual product pages for more.
Can I take them with other medications?
If you are using other treatments, let your prescriber know about these prior to use, as some may not be suitable for use in conjunction with these medicines.
What’s the difference between the medications?
They differ in their administration method, and their function.
Bronchodilators work by opening up the airways to facilitate better breathing, and may be issued as an inhaler, such as Onbrez or Seebri, or a nebuliser solution, such Ipratropium or Respontin.
Mucolytics work by making phlegm less thick and easier to pass.
Should I take a bronchodilator or a mucolytic?
It depends on which item your doctor has determined most beneficial for you.
Are there different side effects?
Yes. However, more common side effects consistent most of these treatments include headache, dry mouth and coughing immediately after use. Please consult the leaflet supplied with the medication for more detailed information.
Is it right for me?
To determine which COPD medication is the most suitable for you, speak to your GP or your respiratory specialist. They will be able to help identify which treatment is the most appropriate, and issue a prescription where required.
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