Products to Make Living With COPD Easier
Living with COPD isn’t easy, but your actions and treatment choices will determine just how difficult your daily routine will be. Fortunately, there are dozens of COPD products that work to open your airways and loosen mucus, which is guaranteed to improve your comfort.
However, different devices work in different ways, and some might suit you better than others. From inhalers and oxygen to clever additions to your living space, consider which COPD aids will help your symptoms and routine the most.
Respiratory Devices to Clean and Protect Your Lungs
The best breathing aids use pressure, vibration, sound, or medication to help rid your body of irritants and improve your lung function. You may find relief in any one of these medically-approved products, but many COPD patients can use more than one for even more relief:
- Expiratory pressure devices. The technique known as positive expiratory pressure therapy (PEP) uses resistance to help you clear your airways: you breathe in through a mask, tube or other mechanism, then you exhale through a small, tight passageway that creates pressure in your lungs to loosen mucus. Both the Acapella and Flutter devices work with the PEP principle.
- Oscillating vest. Vibration is another way to loosen your mucus, especially when the vibration is constant and targeted. The Medpulse Respiratory Vest System or the Vest Airway Clearance System are both designed to hug your torso and massage your chest wall to physically move the mucus from your airways.
- Acoustic devices. Pressure and massage have obvious benefits, but sound can also help loosen mucus. This type of device is almost a combination of vibration and PEP: by exhaling through a small tube, your breath causes a small reed to flutter, and that sends low-frequency sound waves down into your airways and through the mucus buildup. The Lung Flute is the most common brand, and has won a lot of praise from the medical community.
- Portable oxygen. If your COPD is bad, your doctor may suggest that you carry extra oxygen to help you move and breathe more comfortably. It’s not for everyone (treatment is generally reserved for those at risk of heart failure because of low arterial pressure), and since oxygen is highly flammable, you must be extra cautious around heat sources.
- Nebulizers. Using compressed air or ultrasonic power, nebulizers create a mist of medicine for you to inhale. They typically involve measuring a portion of liquid medicine, connecting it to the machine, and then breathing normally for 20 minutes or so. It’s not a difficult or uncomfortable process, but nebulizers aren’t portable – this is a treatment to use at home.
- Inhalers. These handy devices have several advantages: they’re easy to use, extremely portable, fast-acting, and personalized to deliver the perfect type and amount of medicine for your unique symptoms and requirements. There are three main types of inhalers, and your doctor will determine whether a metered-dose inhaler (MDI), a dry powder inhaler (DPI), or a soft mist inhaler (SMI) is the best choice for you.
I’s not enough to find the proper inhaler or breathing aid; you need to use the device properly to get the benefits you’re looking for. Respiratory therapists can show you how exactly how to use the breathing tool, including the right and wrong techniques, and signs that the device may not be working correctly.