Emphysema is a problem with the tiny air sacs of the lungs. These sacs should stretch to fill with air and get smaller as air moves out of the lungs. Emphysema is when the air sacs are damaged. It makes it hard to breathe.
There is no cure. Your doctor will focus on helping you manage symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Treatment may be:
smoking slows the disease. It is a critical part of treatment. There are many things that can help:
Behavior change programs
Both behavior programs and medicines
Breathe Clean Air
Limit the number of irritants in the air you breathe. Avoid smoke, dust, smog, extreme heat or cold, and high altitudes.
These medicines may be used:
Bronchodilators to open and relax airways
Corticosteroids to ease swelling
Antibiotics to treat lung infections
Some medicines may be taken as pills or liquids. Others are inhaled medicines that are delivered directly to the lungs.
The flu and pneumonia can make your symptoms worse. Get vaccinated against
flu. The flu vaccine may also reduce flare-ups.
may be helpful if the oxygen levels in your blood are too low. It can help you breathe and improve your level of energy. You may only need it for specific activities or it may be given throughout the day.
Special exercises can strengthen chest muscles. This can make it easier to breathe.
Regular physical activity can improve how your body uses oxygen. It can reduce workload on your lungs.
Breathing and Coughing Methods
Special methods of breathing can help bring more air into the lungs. They can also help force trapped air out of the lungs. Coughing methods can also help clear mucus. Ask your doctor if these methods can help you. Some examples include:
Pursed lip breathing
Excess weight causes the lungs and heart to work harder, which they are already doing because of emphysema. For some people, the extra work of breathing can make eating enough food difficult. This can result in weight loss. A dietitian may be needed to help with weight management.
Emphysema can be stressful. Therapists, support groups, and family members and friends can provide support. Relaxation methods can also help.
A small number of people may benefit from surgery. Part of the lung may be removed. This will let healthier areas open.
may be an option. A healthy, donor lung will be placed. It will require lifelong medicine.
To prevent emphysema:
If you smoke, talk to your doctor about how to quit
Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke
Avoid exposure to air pollution or irritants
Wear protective gear if you are around irritants or toxins on the job
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