What are COPD flare ups? Available treatment, Rehabilitation and Role of Immunization.

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  • 4 months ago
Dr. Preeti Sharma
Pulmonology

What are COPD flare ups? Available treatment, Rehabilitation and Role of Immunization.

 In this video, SimpliHealth expert, Dr. Preeti Sharma, Senior Consultant Pulmonology and Critical Care at Apollo Clinic, Chandigarh, is talking about the treatment of COPD Flare-up and its treatment. She also answers questions like: 

  • What are the flares-up of COPD or exacerbations? 
  • How long do they last? What are the danger signs? 
  • When should we report to the hospital? 
  • What are the treatment options available for COPD? 
  • Are there any natural remedies to treat COPD?

What Is The COPD flare-up Or exacerbations? 

It means that COPD is becoming a dangerous situation, and you need to get hospitalized.

How will we know that we have COPD flare-ups or exacerbations?

Suppose there is an increase in the frequency of coughing, which was not present under normal conditions. 

In that case, you have a: 

  • fever
  • trouble breathing
  • severe headache
  • swelling in the legs 
  • suffering from mental confusion
  • drowsiness. 

If you observe any of these symptoms and you cannot perform your regular daily routine that you were able to do previously. If you observe any of these symptoms, then this means that you are in a flare-up of COPD or exacerbation. 

The doctor have seen bluish coloration on the tongue, hands, or nails in some cases because of sudden oxygen depletion. So this is an immediate indication of hospitalization. It’s important to understand these flare-ups since our diseases start getting worse as soon as they reach the flare-up stage. 

There will be a drop-in level of oxygen drop in oxygen saturation, so patients require adequate treatment under these circumstances. The doctors often take reliever medication or inhalers more frequently due to shortness of breath. Taking frequent inhalers is also one indication of COPD flare-up. So it is essential to take adequate treatment from the hospital.

What Are The Treatment Modalities Available For COPD Flare-Ups Or Exacerbations?

The main goal of all the COPD-related treatment modalities is to reduce the patients’ symptoms and give them a quality of life which is very important for them. And the doctors need to minimize these exacerbations or flare-ups of COPD. 

So to initiate the treatment, they prescribe different types of medicines, which they call bronchodilators or anti-inflammatory steroids. 

Under bronchodilators, they have other inhalers in which they either use long-acting beta-agonist or long-acting anti-muscarinic agents, commonly known as LAMAs. They usually are also given to the patients when they are at home. Otherwise, if the patient has severe flare-up or exacerbation, they use steroids. 

However, the use of steroids depends upon the indication of the patient, the type of pain, and the problem. Apart from this, a Pulmonary rehabilitation program is essential for these patients.  

What do you mean by pulmonary rehabilitation programme? 

I mean, it’s essential to have an exercise routine for these patients through this program. These patients get stuck in a vicious cycle of dyspnea when they have shortness of breath when they sit. And they think they can’t do anything, but because of this, they suffer more from shortness of breath which would add to their worries. 

And in the end, it would lead to depression and anxiety. So in this, the doctos ask them to do an exercise training program in which they teach different types of exercise to the patients. In this regime, breathing exercise is very important, which could be pursed-lip breathing or belly breathing. 

Breathing exercise helps in dyspnea because this exercise brings back the action of diaphragm muscles and helps the patients cope with shortness of breath. 

Apart from all, quitting smoking is an essential component of COPD treatment. No medicine will show its effect if you continue smoking. So you must start your program of quitting smoking under a doctor’s supervision. 

These days the doctors have different things like nicotine gums and other things available. But most importantly, they should make up our minds to quit smoking; otherwise, no medicine could show its effect. Another thing we have is the role of immunization in COPD.

What is the role of immunization in COPD?

Immunization plays a vital role in preventing severe hospitalization and infection. Like Influenza vaccination which must be given annually to the patients, or pneumococcal vaccination, which is available in two forms according to the age: PCV13 and the other is PCV23. The immunization prevents severe pneumococcal infection or pneumonia and reduces the need for hospitalization. 

In addition, these days, COVID-19 vaccination is also very important for COPD patients to prevent further worsening of the situation. These patients need to administer Diptheria Zoster vaccination to prevent shingles. 

It’s essential to identify all these symptoms and follow the routine. There should be a plan of treatment made by a specialist doctor so that you can manage your exercise program and immunization schedule. 

And further, you can prevent COPD from getting worse because it is a preventable and treatable disease.

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