7 COPD Myths

by John Bottrell Health Professional

Human diseases and their remedies have been prone to misconceptions, or myths. Even though we are in an age of scientific results, myths are still abounding. Here is the truth behind some common myths that pertain to COPD.

COPD is a new disease

Some people think COPD is a new disease that began when people started smoking cigarettes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The truth is that this disease has existed since the beginning of time, only for most of history it was confused as asthma. Cigarette smoking made the disease more common, thus bringing it into the limelight.

COPD can be controlled just by taking medicine

The truth is that some lifestyle changes will probably be necessary in order to get your disease under control. Other changes may include learning to control and avoid your COPD triggers, wearing oxygen, eating healthy, and learning to pace yourself with exertion.

You cannot improve lung function

While you cannot repair damage that is already done, there are things you can do to improve your lung function. Exercise, particularly the aerobic kind (riding bikes, walking) has been proven to expand lungs so they can take in more air. Controller medicines are proven to improve lung function long term, but you will have to take them every day as prescribed. A regular regime of bronchodilators may also do the same.

Controlling COPD means just treating flare-ups

Wrong. Controlling COPD entails taking the proper steps when you're having a flare-up, but it also means making the essential lifestyle changes necessary to live a better life with this disease. You must follow your medication maintenance plan. You should also avoid things that trigger your flare-ups, such as strong smells, dust, pollutants, high humidity, and cold air.

Nebulizers work better than inhalers

Most studies show that inhalers used properly work just as well as nebulizers for most people. The only time nebulizers work better is when you are no longer able to generate enough flow to actuate inhalers. When this occurs, nebulizers become the preferred route for inhaled medicine.

Hospital nebulizers work better than the ones you use at home

The truth is we use the same bronchodilators in the hospital setting (albuterol, duoneb, ipatropium bromide, xopenex) that are prescribed for home use. There is no evidence that suggests that giving these medicines in the hospital setting will make them work better.

COPD is an excuse not to exercise

Actually, exercising with COPD is essential to improving the quality of your life. It makes your heart and lungs stronger so you feel less winded. It also helps to keep your energy level up, your mood positive, and prevents muscle loss. The trick is to find activities that are best for you and pace yourself. Speak with your doctor before beginning an exercise regimen.

Keep learning

Don't be a victim of a medical myth. If you have questions regarding any area of your disease or how it is being treated, talk to your physician. Plus, it's always a good idea to educate your disease by reading as much as you can about COPD. One great way of doing this is by continuing to hang out at COPD communities like ours.

John Bottrell
Meet Our Writer
John Bottrell

John Bottrell is a registered Respiratory Therapist. He wrote for HealthCentral as a health professional for Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).