Chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD) is a serious chronic condition among millions of Americans that is characterized by airflow blockage and various breathing-related problems. In the majority of cases, patients who are diagnosed with COPD have to be hospitalized in order to receive appropriate treatment and management of the disease (Overington et al., 2014). According to the Global Burden of Disease Study, COPD is the third leading cause of death worldwide (Welte, Vogelmeier, & Papi, 2015).
To avoid complications or predict its progression, a variety of interventions may be offered to the population. In this paper, COPD, its pathophysiology, and etiology will be discussed as a part of evidence-based practice (EBP) to understand better the effects of its alternative therapies such as acupuncture and herbal medicine.
Description of COPD
COPD is a condition that may threaten human life in a variety of ways. The pathophysiology of this disease begins with the damage of the airways and develops as a cough with or without mucus that prevents normal breathing. Emphysema (alveoli’s damage because of the fibers) and chronic bronchitis (bronchioles’ inflammation and associated mucus) are the two well-known phenotypes of COPD (Overington et al., 2014). The speed of chronic inflammation and the level of damage vary among COPD patients and are closely connected with human genetics and disease etiology.
The main causes of COPD as a chronic condition include tobacco smoking, occupational exposure to dust or some dangerous chemicals, and oxidative stress because of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. Lung tissue damage is easy to achieve when a person lives in a harmful environment. It is not enough to avoid danger, and people should be ready to protect their bodies and strengthen the immune system. People who neglect precautions and continue smoking or using drugs put themselves under threat of being undiagnosed at the early stage and suffer from more severe stages of COPD (Welte et al., 2015). Such signs as shortness of breath or chest pain are hardly recognizable as a part of COPD, and many people receive treatment at the later stage.
To diagnose COPD, therapists usually use special lung function tests, chest X-ray, and CT scans. These practices help detect lung damage and check the ability of the lungs to hold air. As soon as COPD is approved, patients have to receive appropriate treatment and quit smoking. Pharmacological options are considered the main part of the first-line therapy for COPD patients. Bronchodilators are frequently supported as the main medication due to their ability to relax muscles and improve airways. Short-acting beta-agonists like albuterol, salmeterol, or formoterol have to be taken from 1-2 puffs to 8 puffs per day (Fan et al., 2016).
Regarding the results of EBP guidelines and pharmacotherapy, about 27% of patients reported the cases of overuse of this type of drugs (Fan et al., 2016). Antibiotics are recommended to 70% of patients with mild or moderate COPD (Welte et al., 2015). Finally, inhaled corticosteroids aim to reduce inflammation and control exacerbations among patients (Overington et al., 2014). These medications can be used for treating rather than preventing purposes.
Alternative Therapies’ Research
The global burden of COPD is one of the reasons for increased investigations and multiple analyses of current research studies. The authors from different countries offer a variety of new and alternative ways to deal with COPD. For example, in many Oriental countries, herbal products are frequently used as therapeutic agents for COPD patients (Liao, Hu, Chen, & Hung, 2017). Different formulas of herbs are offered by doctors.
In the study by Liao et al. (2017), a random sample choice was made to identify 26,448 patients among one million individuals with COPD. With the help of such exclusion criteria as missing data, patients’ age, and the year of the diagnosis, the participants were divided as follows: users of traditional Chinese medicine (n=9,948) and nonusers of traditional Chinese medicine (n=9,194) (Liao et al., 2017). For example, it was proved that some herbs like Dan Shen could be used to potentiate the anticoagulation effect of warfarin.
Chinese medicine also introduces acupuncture as one of the possible non-pharmacological techniques for COPD patients. Feng, Wang, Li, Zhao, and Xu (2016) suggested this method as a chance to reduce dyspnea that is observed in COPD patients. Seventy-two patients were randomly divided into 2 groups with one group really receiving needling 3 times during 8 weeks, and another group fictitiously receiving needling during the same time (Feng et al., 2016). Acupuncture was explained as an effective means to improve the health-related quality of COPD patient’s life.
Regarding the information gathered from research studies and the results demonstrated by the participants from different countries, alternative therapy in the form of herbal medicine and acupuncture may be offered to COPD patients. COPD is a chronic condition with which many people have to live (Welte et al., 2015). Pharmacological treatment cannot be neglected, and there is a chance to improve the quality of life with non-pharmacological approaches.
As a nurse practitioner treating a patient with COPD, I would like to recommend acupuncture and herbal medicine. These approaches can hardly be harmful to adult patients. The results show that certain improvements are observed within the next few weeks. This approach is an opportunity to recover and influence COPD complications among different patients.
Lessons and Conclusion
Doing this paper, I got a chance to improve my knowledge about COPD and the complications that many people have because of tobacco smoking and the necessity to live in the harmful environment. Human progress has its effects on health, and COPD is one of the harms that change the style of life. Alternative interventions should never be chosen for granted. Deep research and evidence-based practice are required to make sure positive results may be achieved.
This work shows that alternative medicine like herbs or acupuncture has already been used by different nations. People of various occupations, ages, and both genders have their pros and cons to support alternative treatment. After the research conducted, I believe that alternative medicine is appropriate for COPD patients under certain conditions and thorough observations.
To conclude, it is necessary to admit that COPD is a dangerous chronic condition that is characterized by a number of signs and complications. The analysis of its pathophysiology and etiology proves that not many people are aware of effective preventive methods even though they know that COPD may kill. Treatment for COPD patients can vary, depending on people’s preferences, health conditions, and other issues. Alternative medicine is a chance to look at treatment from a new angle, and it is recommended not to neglect this step in modern medicine.
Fan, V. S., Gylys-Colwell, I., Locke, E., Sumino, K., Nguyen, H. Q., Thomas, R. M., & Magzamen, S. (2016). Overuse of short-acting beta-agonist bronchodilators in COPD during periods of clinical stability. Respiratory Medicine, 116, 100-106. Web.
Feng, J., Wang, X., Li, X., Zhao, D., & Xu, J. (2016). Acupuncture for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): A multicenter, randomized, sham-controlled trial. Medicine, 95(40). Web.
Liao, Y. N., Hu, W. L., Chen, H. J., & Hung, Y. C. (2017). The use of Chinese herbal medicine in the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 45(2), 225-238. Web.
Overington, J. D., Huang, Y. C., Abramson, M. J., Brown, J. L., Goddard, J. R., Bowman, R. V.,… Yang, I. A. (2014). Implementing clinical guidelines for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: Barriers and solutions. Journal of Thoracic Disease, 6(11), 1586-1596. Web.
Welte, T., Vogelmeier, C., & Papi, A. (2015). COPD: Early diagnosis and treatment to slow disease progression. International Journal of Clinical Practice, 69(3), 336-349. Web.