Emphysema is one of the major obstructive lung diseases under the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease(COPD) umbrella. This lung condition gradually destroys the air sacs in the lungs, making it progressively more difficult to breathe. The tiny cluster-like air sacs in the lungs are responsible for bringing oxygen to the bloodstream. As emphysema progresses, the inner walls of the air sacs form holes weakening their internal structure. The disease deters oxygen from reaching the bloodstream. Emphysema also destroys the elasticity of the airways that lead to the air sacs. As a result, the air sacs collapse trapping oxygen in the lungs. Sufferers of emphysema constantly struggle to breathe.
Symptoms of Emphysema
Sufferers of emphysema typically exhibit a persistent cough or “smokers cough.” The cough reflex is an important defense mechanism expelling harmful substances from the body. The damage done to the lungs from the causes of emphysema can irritate the lungs leading to a persistent cough.
Emphysema may cause an individual to wheeze, or exhibit an abnormal whistling noise while breathing. Wheezing is a result of air passing through the bronchioles or tree like structures of the lung. When the bronchiole airways become narrowed or damaged, air travels abnormally, and causes a whistling noise.
Emphysema may cause chest tightness or the sensation of not being able to breath. Chest tightness is one of the scariest symptoms for sufferers. Chest tightness is often exacerbated by anxiety and in severe cases can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Shortness of Breath
Labored breathing or shortness of breath is the feeling that breathing requires far more effort than what is typically necessary. In emphysema sufferers, shortness of breath can occur while exerting oneself, sitting or lying flat.
Smoking cessation is always the first step in treating a lung disease. Once you’ve visited with a pulmonologist you will likely get prescribed some medication to help your lung functioning, but note that interstitial lung disease does not have a known cure. It is also important that you regularly exercise your lungs and moderate your diet to help slow the progression of the disease. With all of these things, you may still not be satisfied with your ability to live a normal life.
The Lung Institute offers stem cell treatments for interstitial lung disease. The stem cells used by the Lung Institute are autologous, which means they come from the patient’s own body. The stem cells are extracted from bone marrow or the patient’s blood (venous) depending on the patient’s current condition and health history. Adult stem cells have the capacity to form many types of differentiated cells, so when the stem cells are returned to the patient, they will target the damaged tissue, which leads to improved lung function in patients with a chronic lung disease. Our minimally invasive, outpatient stem cell procedures are changing lives by helping patients breathe easier.
Once the desired volume of stem cells are available, they are extracted from the patient’s blood or bone marrow. The stem cells are isolated and returned to the patient intravenously. Once the cells are returned to the patient, they may begin to slow down the progression of the disease. Since stem cells can continually replicate, the lungs can progressively grow stronger, and patients may see restored lung function.