The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Emphysema affects lung function in three main ways. First, emphysema causes holes to gradually form inside the lungs’ air sacs, thereby weakening their internal structure and inhibiting the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Second, emphysema damages the elasticity of the airways that lead to the air sacs, causing the air sacs to collapse and trap oxygen within the lungs. Third, routinely inhaling cigarette smoke destroys both the cilia (the hair-like structures tasked with clearing mucus from the lungs) and the body’s immune cells, thereby increasing the risk of lung infection.
Emphysema is an obstructive respiratory disease, meaning that the condition makes it difficult to fully exhale (as opposed to restrictive respiratory diseases, which make it difficult to fully inhale). In addition to difficulty breathing, emphysema is associated with the following symptoms:
- Feeling of tightness in the chest
If you’re living with emphysema, the cellular therapy procedures offered at the Lung Institute may be able to improve your quality of life. Traditional emphysema treatment methods (including bronchodilators, inhaled corticosteroids and supplemental oxygen therapy) only address the symptoms of the disease, but not the disease itself. Cellular therapy is different, however, as it may slow the progression of emphysema. Treatment can be completed on an outpatient basis over the course of two days, during which time we take a small sample of the patient’s own blood, separate the cells from the remaining cells in the sample and then intravenously return the concentrated cells to the patient’s bloodstream. The cells can be used for the treatment of emphysema because they have the unique ability to regenerate as other forms of bodily tissue, allowing them to help with healing. Because our procedures use autologous cells (ones derived from the patient’s own body), they are considered to be a safe method of emphysema treatment.
If you would like more information on how cellular therapy can help with emphysema treatment, please contact the Lung Institute at (800) 729-3065.