Lung Bacteria and COPD by Peter Henry
Medically Edited and Reviewed by Dr. Erin Zinkhan MD, BSBE
New Research on Lung Bacteria Could Mean New Treatment for Some Types of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Everyone's lungs normally have hundreds of types of bacteria living in them all the time. These colonies potentially have either good or bad effects on the body. The types of bacteria living in our lungs is called the lung microbiome. Researchers are working toward a better understanding of the lung microbiome to help create new treatments for COPD and ultimately to unveil the causes of COPD.1
Is COPD Treatment Hurting or Helping Your Microbiome?
Your lungs are exposed to environmental factors such as pathogens and chemicals and to medications for COPD or other conditions. The bacteria that make up your lung microbiome can be affected every time we are exposed to these environmental factors.
How do Breathing Treatments for COPD Affect it?
For many individuals with COPD, treatment involves using a handheld inhaler containing bronchodilators or corticosteroids. While bronchodilators and inhaled corticosteroids are lifesaving sometimes, many people don't use them correctly, and these therapies treat the symptoms rather than the cause of COPD. Not all doctors who prescribe inhalers can explain fully to patients how to properly use inhalers.2 Individuals who use inhalers have different bacteria in their lungs compared with people who do not need to use inhalers, but researchers don't know yet why there is a difference or what the difference means for people with COPD.3 Some researchers think that taking a corticosteroid could have significant effects on the lung microbiome by increasing certain types of bacteria.4
Nebulizer treatments for COPD are used for antibiotics, bronchodilators, corticosteroids, and several other types of medications. Some nebulizer treatments like TOBI tobramycin solution for inhalation need a special nebulizer like the DeVilbiss Pulmo Aide to administer the medication.
Researchers have found that if they treat patients with inhaled antibiotics, the population of lung bacteria becomes less diverse, eliminating many bad bacteria but also many good bacteria, too. The growth of these bacteria is delayed for a time. Inhaled steroids can increase these bacteria populations faster once again.4
What Does This Mean for Your COPD?
Adherence to a COPD treatment program is critical to recovery and prevention of future exacerbations.5 Available treatments for COPD are mostly focused on combatting symptoms during a COPD exacerbation. Nebulizer therapy can be a better option than handheld inhalers because they can be easier to use properly than inhalers. Ease of use and portability don't need to be sacrificed to properly use a nebulizer. For example, using a nebulizer like the MABIS CompXP Deluxe Compressor Nebulizer can greatly reduce the limitations of using a standard nebulizer.
What Can You Do Now?
Learning as much as you can about your treatments and their side effects is important to prevent a COPD exacerbation. Knowing how to select the right oxygen concentrator, and using it properly can help you to get the correct amount of oxygen to your body. Getting a complete run-down on how to properly use your handheld inhaler or your nebulizer treatment can make a huge difference on your overall quality of life. Knowledge and commitment to your treatment plan are the most beneficial things that you can do to prevent future COPD exacerbations.
1R., Dy; S., Sethi. The lung microbiome and exacerbations of COPD. Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine. May 2016, Volume 22, Issue 3 p. 196-202. Web. 6 July, 2016. .
2Alismail, A. et al. Diverse Inhaler Devices: A Big Challenge for Health-Care Professionals Respiratory Care. May 1, 2016 vol. 61 No. 5 pp.593-599. Web. 8 July, 2016.
3Pragman, A. A. et al. The Lung Microbiome in Moderate and Severe Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. PLOS one Open Access PLoS ONE 7(10): e47305. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047305. Web. 7 July, 2016.
4Huang, Y. J. Et al. fincreas Journal of Clinical Microbiology. 2014 Aug; 52(8): 2813-2823. Web. 7 July., 2016.
5Santos-Longhurst, A. Nebulizers for Sever COPD. Web. 8 July, 2016.