Bottom line, no. Unfortunately, COPD cannot be cured, and the prognosis is always bad. COPD will kill you – as it will me – directly or indirectly (unless something else, like an uptown bus, gets you first). Nothing you can do about that except have the mental fortitude to not let it dominate your life. Always bear in mind – worrying changes nothing. Ever.
When I was 17, I was told with great certainty, that I’d be dead by 40 – serves me right for demanding to know, I suppose (I’ve had the precursors to my COPD all my life – I’ve never smoked). However, as I got older, meds got better, so until very recently I’ve stayed pretty much in a state of equilibrium with my meds, and I’m still here; I’ve also stayed extremely fit, until the onset of ME/CFS in 1985, which has helped. However, I’ve continued, like everyone else with COPD, to deteriorate, but there have been no new drugs for over a decade, just tinkering with existing drugs to protect patents more than to benefit the patient. My meds were maxed out around 8 years ago – I’ve nowhere else to go, and if nothing new comes along, I’m pretty much screwed, but I’m cool with that – bugger all I can do about it anyway.
COPD can be managed – see my post Drugs for COPD which details my medication regime, but that’s only treating the symptoms – there’s nothing to be done for the condition itself. If your COPD is smoking-related then you must stop – that’s a no-brainer and, frankly, anyone who continues to smoke after a COPD diagnosis will do nothing but hasten their own death. Which will pretty much serve them right.
Improving general fitness will improve lung-function a little – the main problem with severe COPD, though, is that exercising is all but impossible. In my own experience, being as fit as you can be will slow the inevitable deterioration – I’ve got a hell of a lot worse since I’ve been unable to exercise. If you’re just starting life with COPD, then I strongly suggest getting as fit as you can, while you can; it will pay dividends later on.
I’ve found that intensive antibiotic therapy, taken in accordance with the GOLD guidelines, is beneficial – I’ve bough my own for the past 5 years, and at the slightest hint of purulence – long before the infection gets a real hold, to the extent I can take it to my GP – I take a 7-day course and, having my own stock, I have the option to continue as long as it takes. I’ve needed a doctor only 3 times since 2004 – before that it was virtually every month. I get my antibiotics (Amoxycillin), here. It’s a company I’ve used for several years; they’re reliable, their prices are good and include postage. The drugs supplied are branded, and sourced from the New Zealand market.
I once had a GP who complained at the number of bronchodilators I have – 3 inhalers, a tablet and a capsule – and that’s entirely the wrong attitude. All my bronchodilators work differently, and so complement each other, and all are needed. A tight-fisted GP is the COPD patient’s worst enemy, and if that’s a problem, you really need to change. Beware, too, new GPs – they always want to change your meds, and you really will have to assert yourself if what you already have works for you. If your GP is in a health centre, you may be able to find another partner who meets your needs better.
Oh, and one final word of advice – find a pharmacy that dispenses branded inhalers, not generics. Generic inhalers, especially Salbutamol, are simply not as good as the branded ones, and I don’t care that those penny-pinching bastards at NICE say. Consider this – when conducting pulmonary function tests in hospitals, the gold standard is the Ventolin (Salbutamol) inhaler. Not cheap-ass generic substitutes. That should tell you all you need to know.