The Drug that May be Dangerous for People with COPD

If you have COPD, you might know how hard it is to fall asleep some nights. This is one of the most common side effects of having COPD, besides not being able to breathe correctly. Not getting enough sleep is much more than just a nuisance and feeling tired the next day. It affects every aspect of your life, including your moods and how well you are able to deal with regular, everyday things. If you're having trouble sleeping for extended amount of time, you feel like you would do anything for a good nights sleep.

There is one class of drugs commonly used for insomnia and depression, called benzodiazepines, which has been found to be dangerous for people with COPD in a recent study. The 2004 to 2009 study followed a group of patients with COPD to see how often benzodiazepines were prescribed to them, and whether or not their lung function decreased because of the drug. Benzodiazepines are also known as sedative hypnotic drugs, and have been suspected to worsen existing lung conditions.

The lung function of the people with COPD worsened significantly after taking benzodiazepines over time, while the lung function of those not taking them remained about the same. Other factors, such as severity and other things, such as original severity of the COPD, age and lifestyle were also taken into consideration.

The results were enough to conclude that what they suspected about benzodiazepines was true – it may help with the symptoms of insomnia and depression at first, but it has a negative effect on the lungs. It was also found that the other effects of COPD, such as an inability to think clearly and sudden mood swings were worsened because of the drug. The COPD symptoms that it was used to treat in the first place can be worsened by the drug, if taken for too long.

This is one of those drugs that should be closely monitored, and the dosage tapered off as soon as symptoms can allow, in people who do not have compromising chronic conditions that can be worsened by taking this type of medication.

If you are having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about other, safer medications you could take to treat it. He or she may also give you some helpful advice for getting a better nights sleep that doesn't involve taking any medications.

One of the best things to do to start getting a better nights sleep, is to exercise regularly. Consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine, just to be safe. Even just taking a walk around your neighborhood in the evening might be all you need to get plenty of fresh air, and exercise to help you sleep better.

You also shouldn't watch TV right before bedtime. The light from the television set is notorious for throwing off your body's natural reaction to darkness, which signals when it's time to go to sleep. The light from an e-book reader can have the same effect. Reading a good, old-fashioned book is a much better way to make your eyes tired enough to go to sleep.

Information on this page is for reference and educational purposes only. For more information about COPD, talk to your doctor or primary care provider.

About Scott Ridl: Scott joined American Medical Sales and Rentals in 2008 as a Web Manager and Content Writer. He is a writer and designer. He is extensively trained on oxygen therapy products from leading manufacturers such as Inogen, Respironics, Chart, Invacare, ResMed and more. Scott works closely with respiratory therapists and oxygen specialists to educate the community about oxygen therapy products, COPD, asthma and lung diseases. He writes weekly columns and is passionate about educating the community on oxygen therapy and respiratory issues.

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