How is lung disease and COPD treated in the ICU?

Dianna Bottoms
Critical Care Nursing

Lung disease and COPD are treated with a variety of measures, including oxygen and medications. If patients are not able to breathe adequately on their own, then machines may be used to help assist or take over the work of breathing until they are able. The goal is always to have the patient off of machines as quickly as possible. The longer the patient is on the machines, the weaker the breathing muscles become. In addition to medications and machines, some other therapies include asking the patient to take deep breaths and to cough frequently, which helps to open the tiny air sacs and to move mucous out of the airways. Another therapy is as simple as turning the patient from side to side to help encourage the lungs to work more effectively. Lastly, sitting the patient up in bed or in the bedside chair is a therapy that helps to strengthen the muscles used for breathing and balance and help the lungs expand more effectively.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.