Emphysema is a chronic obstructive disease of the lungs. The lungs contain millions of tiny air sacs called alveoli. In emphysema, the sacs lose their elasticity and air becomes trapped in the sacs. It becomes difficult to expel oxygen-depleted air from the lungs so the normal exchange of new and used air is diminished. Emphysema is classified as a
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
There is no treatment to cure emphysema. Treatment aims to ease symptoms and improve quality of life.
slows progression of the disease. Doctors consider it the most important aspect of treatment. Smoking cessation programs may include behavior modification and medications to help you gradually taper off cigarettes.
Limiting the number of irritants in the air may help make breathing easier. Avoid smoke, dust, smog, extreme heat or cold, and high altitudes.
Although no medication will actually cure emphysema, a variety of drugs are available to help ease the symptoms and fight the complications. These include:
Bronchodilators—to relax the airways and open breathing passages (may be given as pills or inhaled)
Corticosteroids—to decrease inflammation and swelling in the breathing passages
Antibiotics—to fight bacterial infections
Expectorants—to loosen mucus and make it easier to cough up
Oxygen is given to supplement the air taken in by the body. It can increase energy levels and heart and brain function by increasing the amount of available oxygen.
Avoid being around people who are sick. If you think you are getting the flu, call your doctor. You may need to take an antiviral medication.
Exercise/Pulmonary Rehabilitation Programs
Special exercises can strengthen chest muscles and make breathing easier. Physical activity builds endurance and improves quality of life. Follow your doctor's recommendations for activity levels and restrictions.
Special methods of breathing and breathing exercises with and without an
can help bring more air into the lungs and force trapped air out of the lungs.
Percussion and Postural Drainage
This is a technique that uses special techniques of clapping on the back and chest to help loosen secretions and special positioning to help the lungs drain.
Nutrition and Fluids
. Excess weight causes the lungs and heart to work harder.
, one that is low in saturated fat and rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Eat several small meals during the day. It makes breathing easier.
Avoid gas-producing foods. An overly full stomach pushes up on the diaphragm, which encroaches on the lungs' space. This makes it harder to breathe.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a