COPD treatments

There is still no cure for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, if the disease is detected early, its progression can be slowed down.

COPD - quitting smoking is the most important thing

Illustration to illustrate quitting smoking

The most important measure is to stop smoking or to avoid areas where smokers are present. Smoking cessation programs are recommended for anyone who is unable to quit smoking on their own. The success rate here is up to 50 percent. Professional smoking cessation programs combine psychosocial support with various therapy options, such as nicotine replacement products in the form of patches, chewing gum or sprays. Relaxation techniques such as autogenic training or progressive muscle relaxation as well as acupuncture procedures are also helpful.

Medication for COPD

Lung function can be supported and symptoms treated with drug therapy:

  • Bronchodilators: So-called bronchodilators are helpful. They widen the airways and make breathing easier.
  • Cortisone preparations: For severe illnesses with worsening symptoms, lung specialists recommend inhaling cortisone preparations.
  • Oxygen therapy: If chronic oxygen deficiency and cardiac insufficiency occur, long-term oxygen therapy is necessary. Oxygen is administered via a nasal tube many hours a day.

Lung volume reduction

In isolated cases, the excess lung volume can be reduced either bronchoscopically or surgically:

  • During bronchoscopic lung volume reduction, we use a bronchoscope to insert one-way valves into certain lobes of the lung. The volume in the treated lung lobes is significantly reduced so that neighboring areas are better supplied with oxygen. The procedure is only suitable for patients who do not smoke, are of normal weight and whose emphysema is more pronounced in one region than in the rest of the lungs.
  • During a surgical lung volume reduction, our lung surgeon opens the chest and cuts out part of the diseased lung. This means that less affected sections of the lungs can expand better again and patients therefore suffer less from breathlessness.

In addition, a lung transplant is possible in certain individual cases.

What you can do yourself

You also have the opportunity to positively influence the course of COPD. The following measures are important:

  • Attend a COPD training course: learn all about the correct intake of the therapy. This increases the success rate of the treatment and you may be able to influence and reduce a worsening of the symptoms.
  • Exercise and diet: Exercise and eat a healthy diet. The healthier your body is as a whole, the better you will cope with the illness. Normal body weight plays an important role here. Talk to us about which sports are suitable for you and consult a nutritionist.
  • Physiotherapy: Respiratory physiotherapy will teach you how to better manage your symptoms. Aids, such as gripping aids, make difficult household tasks easier.
  • Outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation: At the USZ, we offer a targeted program for patients with COPD. This includes 2 appointments per week for three months and is reimbursed by the health insurance company.

Responsible senior physicians

Silvia Ulrich, Prof. Dr. med.

Director of Department, Department of Pulmonology

Tel. +41 43 253 43 36
Specialties: Head of Pulmonary Hypertension, Head of Dyspnea Clinic

Christian Clarenbach, Prof. Dr. med.

Senior Attending Physician, Department of Pulmonology

Tel. +41 44 255 38 28
Specialties: Head of Interstitial and Rare Lung Diseases

René Hage, Ph.D., Dr. med. (NL)

Attending Physician, Department of Pulmonology

Tel. +41 44 255 39 26
Specialties: Vice Head of Lung Transplant Pneumology and Cystic Fibrosis

For patients

As a patient, you cannot register directly for a consultation. Please get a referral from your primary care physician, specialist. For questions please use our contact form.

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University Hospital Zurich
Department of Pulmonology
Rämistrasse 100
8091 Zurich

Tel. +41 44 255 22 21
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Responsible Department