How to Treat Emphysema

Emphysema is included in the group of lung diseases known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD.

Emphysema is a condition where the air sacs of the lungs (the alveoli) are damaged and enlarged, causing breathlessness.  It is typically caused by smoking cigarettes and, unfortunately, there is no cure for the disease. However, treating emphysema can help alleviate symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease.

Here are a few ways to treat emphysema:

Quit Smoking

This is the best thing you can do to prevent and slow down emphysema. If quitting on your own is too difficult, like it is for many, talk to your doctor about medication that can help you stop the bad habit for good. Therapy sessions, counseling, and support groups have also been found to strengthen your resolution and can help you through any temptations along the way.  

Emphysema Treatment Medications

Depending on the severity of your particular case, you may receive one of the following medications for the treatment of emphysema:

Bronchodilators: a short- or long-acting medication that helps relax and widen constricted airways.  This helps ease coughs, shortness of breath, and makes breathing easier.

Corticosteroids: a medication that reduces swelling and inflammation of the airways to relieve shortness of breath.

Antibiotics: if you are experiencing a bacterial infection (pneumonia, bronchitis, etc) in addition to emphysema, you will likely be given an antibiotic.

Oxygen Therapy

Those with emphysema often experience low levels of oxygen in the blood and need to supplement oxygen. Oxygen concentrators are not the ball and chain they once were. O2 Assist has many options including lightweight portable concentrators as well as quiet at home concentrators. To learn more about the oxygen concentrators we carry, contact us today.

Nutritional Therapy
This is often an overlooked part of treating emphysema, but it is very important! In many cases, those that are newly diagnosed with emphysema need to lose weight and those that are in the advanced stages of emphysema need to gain weight. These are serious issues that need to be addressed by a professional sooner than later. Be sure to talk to a dietician or nutritionist that is knowledgable about COPD.

Lung Surgery
In extreme cases and for those that do not respond well to other treatments, lung surgery may be a necessary step. Lung surgery includes lung volume reduction or even a lung transplant.

Many people with emphysema wonder if the lung damage occurred is reversible.  Unfortunately, it is not. But, early diagnosis, lifestyle changes, and following your treatment plan all play a large part in your prognosis. As always, it is important to discuss this information with your doctor. For any questions and to find the best treatment plan for you, be sure to reach out to your health care provider or pulmonologist.