Patients with COPD should be using the most effective medications to control symptoms and flare-ups as much as possible, and refrain from harmful habits like smoking. The use of medications is recommended by the Global Initiative for Chronic Lung Disease (GOLD) to achieve these benefits.

Most patients who come to the office and are first diagnosed with COPD are willing to take medications to help with their symptoms. Most will make an effort to stop smoking or have already quit. Most patients will feel some improvement in symptoms on appropriate medications. The part that is hardest for most patients to grasp is that medications do not cure their disease, nor do they prevent the decline in lung function that occurs with time and is characteristic of COPD. Many are disappointed with this realization and feel that taking their medication is not worth the effort or cost. This reasoning is understandable, but wrong.

Over the years that I have been helping patients with COPD, I find that there are things that I can do for the patient, but there are also things the patient must do for themselves in order to achieve the best long term outcome. I have observed that patients that stop smoking and get the least amount of infections do the best long term and, generally, have the slowest rates of decline in lung function. Medications help with symptoms, and may actually help slow the rate of decline as well. Do not be discouraged. Take you medications and stay safe.