1. What treatment will be prescribed for my Emphysema?
The treatment will depend upon seriousness of your condition i.e. the extent of lung damage and the decision your doctor takes on the basis of the diagnostic reports, physical examination, and your medical history. However, the following lines of treatment/management are popularly prescribed:
• Pulmonary Rehabilitation – This involves giving up of smoking through counseling and education, anti-addiction medication, incorporation of exercises, interaction with support groups and behavioral therapy.
• Bronchodilators – Medications like Albuterol help the bronchioles to dilates and allow more oxygen to enter the lungs. It also relaxes the smooth muscles of the air ways. Another such drug is Ipratropium Bromide which is used in mild cases. Tiotropium has longer effect on the air ducts. Methylxanthines are also effective as bronchodilators but need to be administered with care due to several drug interactions of the compound.
• Steroids – Inhaled steroids help reduce inflation in the body and help reduce the swellings in the alveoli.
• GERD – Relieving the trauma of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease reduces the chances of aggravation of air ways in Emphysema patients.
• Oxygen supplementation – This may be required in severe and emergency cases. Machine- (ventilator-) assisted breathing and under the supervision (for control and monitoring of volume of air flow) of paramedics may be required.
• Vaccines – Innoculations to protect a person from infections of the respiratory system help reduce a persons chances of Emphysema development.
• Antibiotics help those who experience acute shortness of breath in Emphysema. Even when the CT scan does not show a chest infection, antibiotics helps reduce the episodes of dyspnoea
• Surgery – This may be the last resort to save a severely and largely damaged lung. It is not recommended to many emphysema patients. Surgery is done using minimal invasive procedures. At times a lung transplant may be the only hope for an emphysema patient.
2. Is it likely that I have to undergo surgery?