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Articles for category Medications, Treatments and Therapies

COPD in 2016

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This blog post was written by Dr. Byron Thomashow, COPD Foundation Chairman of the Board.

The times are changing. All COPD is not the same and everyone with COPD should not be treated the same way. For over 50 years, we have known that some people with advanced COPD have increased survival when they use Oxygen. For over 20 years, we have known that there is an inherited form of COPD called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency that can be treated with intravenous therapy. Everyone with COPD should be tested for alpha-1.

“Dr. Byron Thomashow For over 10 years, we have known that a subset of people with upper lobe predominate emphysema can benefit from a surgical procedure called Lung Volume Reduction Surgery where the worst areas of emphysema are removed. In carefully selected patients, this procedure can improve quality of life, exercise capacity, and even survival, the first therapy since Oxygen shown to improve survival in advanced COPD. We are now developing less invasive approaches using a flexible tube called a bronchoscope which allows placement of valves or coils to perform lung volume reduction. Several of these devices have already been approved in Europe and will be evaluated here by the FDA in coming years.

Over the last decade we he have learned that there are people with COPD who are “frequent exacerbators”, who have two or more “flares of disease” a year and that they behave differently than those with COPD who are not “frequent exacerbators.” We now have a number of excellent medications that can treat these “frequent exacerbators” and reduce the “flares of disease.” We are learning that even this group can be better defined. We now know that those with a chronic bronchitic form of COPD with chronic cough and sputum who have frequent exacerbations could benefit from a daily oral pill. And more recently we are learning that “frequent exacerbators” with an elevated number of eosinophils (allergy blood cells) might well benefit from specific therapy, and new therapies for this subtype are already being studied.

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Tags: advances in COPD COPD cure treatment
Categories: Medications, Treatments and Therapies

Embarrassed By My Oxygen

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Dear COPD Coach,
I was diagnosed with emphysema approximately 10 years ago. About 5 years ago my pulmonologist prescribed oxygen therapy for me. It was only 2 liters per minute to start, used almost exclusively at home while I slept or if I became short of breath. As time has gone by my disease has progressed and my use of oxygen has increased. My question is, what can I say when I am out in public or at work when people ask what I am wearing and why? I have to admit I am somewhat embarrassed to be seen in public wearing oxygen since I am relatively young and look pretty healthy.

–Embarrassed by my oxygen in public

Dear Embarrassed,
First of all, I strongly believe there is absolutely no reason to ever be embarrassed while using your oxygen in public. Having said that, I think we all go through the same issues as our disease progresses, and many people have developed different strategies for dealing with wearing oxygen in public. When I reached the stage of using oxygen 24/7 I too was leery of being seen at work with oxygen on. When I told my manager, I made sure he knew what was going on and he said, “Thank God you’re alright, I was so worried about you. Now the company gets to report we have an employee with a disability.” My work took me in and out of doctor’s offices every day,  and when first asked I stated that it was because I have Alpha-1. This more often than not led to a great conversation about Alpha-1/COPD and what they can do to better diagnose patients.

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Tags: awareness cannula embarrassed oxygen therapy
Categories: Medications, Treatments and Therapies

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