Breathing Treatments for COPD

If you’ve been diagnosed with COPD, breathing treatment with bronchodilators and oxygen therapy may be part of your treatment plan. 

Bronchodilators are intended to open airways (making breathing more manageable) and are the most commonly prescribed treatment for COPD. Bronchodilators can be short or long-lasting, many containing a steroid. Understanding and becoming familiar with your device and prescription is essential regardless of the type of bronchodilator you’re using (metered-dose inhaler, dry powder inhaler, or nebulizer). 

Understanding and becoming familiar with your devices and prescription is essential. Doing so ensures the safety and that your treatment for COPD is effective. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of bronchodilators so you know what to expect.

Metered-Dose Inhalers

Metered-Dose Inhalers (MDIs) are hand-held, self-administered devices that deliver a specific amount of medication to the lungs in a short, aerosolized spritz. MDIs consist of pressurized medicine surrounded by a plastic tube. The most common type of MDI delivers a specific amount of medication when administered. A spacer is an external device and can ensure better medication delivery. Like all medications, following instructions and using them correctly ensures the best outcome. Here are general instructions on using an MDI (without a spacer):

1 - Remove cap and hold MDI upright (mouthpiece should be at the bottom)

2 - Shake well for 5-10 seconds

3 - Exhale all your air, close lips tightly around the mouthpiece, and tilt your head back

4 - Begin to breathe in slowly as you press down firmly on the can to release the medication

5 - If you’re able, hold your breath for 5-10 seconds to get the most out of your medication

6 - Repeat if your prescription requires a second dose after one minute

7 - Rinse your mouth with warm water if your inhaler contains steroids

8 - Wash your mouthpiece regularly with warm water

Dry-Powder Inhalers

Dry-powder inhalers (DPIs) are similar to MDIs but do not contain a propellant (in many cases aerosol). DPIs rely on your breath to be activated and only include medication. Here are the general steps for using DPIs:

1 - Remove cap and load a dose of medication (loading dosages depends on the brand of medicine you’re using. Be sure to read instructions thoroughly and ask any clarifying questions necessary).

2 - Exhale all your air and tilt your head back

3 - Tightly close your lips around the opening and breath in as deeply, quickly, and forcefully as possible. Do not exhale into the inhaler.

4 - Hold your breath for 5-10 seconds if possible

5 - Repeat if your prescription requires a second dose after one minute

6 - Rinse mouth if your medication contains steroid medications

Nebulizer Treatments

Often patients feel more symptom relief when using a nebulizer. A nebulizer is a device that administers medication in a mist form inhaled into the lungs. If you’re using a nebulizer, your medications will be in liquid form. Most of these devices are small and are very easy to use, so easy that you can even travel with them. One nebulizer treatment typically takes 10-15 minutes to complete. Here are the general steps for using a nebulizer:

1 - Connect the hose to the air compressor and fill the medicine cup with the prescribed dosage

2 - Attach hose and mouthpiece to the medicine cup

3 - Tightly close lips around the mouthpiece and inhale through your mouth until you inhale your medicine entirely.

4 - Wash medicine cup and mouthpiece with warm water

Above are general instructions for using these breathing treatment devices. You should always follow your doctor's specific instructions and prescription strictly. For any questions, reach out to your health care professional.

Breathing Treatments Can Be Supplemented With O2 Assist Oxygen Concentrators

If you have COPD, breathing treatments such as the above can effectively create more airflow. Combining these treatments with oxygen therapy using an oxygen concentrator can drastically improve your breathing. Talk to your doctor about oxygen treatments to see if a concentrator is suitable for you. 

Once you have a prescription for oxygen, look no further than O2 Assist to find both portable and stationary oxygen concentrators that suit your lifestyle. If you need help picking one out, contact us today to learn more about our options and for a free consultation with one of our many friendly specialists.