Most individuals suffering from COPD have a bronchodilator with them at all times. Bronchodilators cause rapid widening of the bronchia, which can help with short-term relief from asthma-like symptoms. However, individuals whose COPD has become more severe often need more powerful medications. Among the most commonly prescribed are inhaled corticosteroids.
Steroids, in general, are a class of anti-inflammatory drugs. Inhaled steroids are a particular class of anti-inflammatory drugs that target the lungs. Oral steroids have a wide variety of dangerous side effects, while inhaled steroids have very few side effects, because the medicine they contain is delivered directly to the lungs.
Any individual with asthma or COPD should know that while a bronchodilator like albuterol can relieve symptoms quickly, oral steroids take a relatively long time to begin working. As such, they are not an emergency medicine, a medicine that one turns to when they are having trouble breathing. The importance of an inhaled steroid is that once they start working, they can help keep the bronchia open by reducing inflammation. When inhaled steroids are used in conjunction with a bronchodilator, they can be quite effective in controlling various types of breathing difficulties.
According to the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD), individuals suffering from COPD should use a combination of an inhaled steroid, a long-acting bronchodilator, and a long-acting muscarinic antagonist (LAMA). If these measures proved to be insufficient, an oral steroid along with an oxygen machine may be required.
In order for medicines to be effective, they need to be taken consistently and in the correct way. However, according to a 2017 study, only 6% of people diagnosed with COPD used their inhalers regularly and correctly. Considering the severity and discomfort of COPD, it is surprising that this percentage is so low.
The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine noted that coaching individuals with COPD on the proper use of an inhaler reduces hospital admissions, helps alleviate many of the symptoms associated with COPD, and helps prevent further complications.
Laurel Bay Health and Rehabilitation Center, in the scenic beach town of Keansburg, NJ, specializes in pulmonary care. Headed by leading pulmonary specialist Dr. Avtar Parhar, our program is the most highly advanced pulmonary rehabilitation program in Monmouth County. At Laurel Bay, we focus on restorative and preventive care for those who suffer with chronic respiratory disease.
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