Exhale

The official blog of the Lung Institute.

Emphysema Symptoms: What They Are and How to Manage Them

10 Apr 2017
| Under Disease Education, Emphysema, Medical | Posted by | 8 Comments
Emphysema Symptoms: What They Are and How to Manage Them

For people living with emphysema, each person has a different set of challenges they must face. What makes these challenges unique to each person are factors such as what caused the disease, environmental conditions and overall health prior to diagnosis. But, one aspect which remains constant for many is which emphysema symptoms can be expected.

With your health in mind, let’s take a look at emphysema symptoms, what they are and how to manage them.

What is Emphysema?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 3.4 million Americans have been diagnosed with emphysema, as of 2014. Emphysema is an obstructive lung disease which gradually destroys the air sacs in the lungs. These air sacs are responsible for bringing oxygen to the bloodstream. This makes breathing become more difficult over time. Emphysema, along with chronic bronchitis, are part of a lung disease collective known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Emphysema Symptoms and How to Manage Them

Emphysema Symptoms: What They Are and How to Manage Them

There is a common set of emphysema symptoms, including persistent cough, shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness. Remember, if you are experiencing these symptoms for extended periods, contact your doctor immediately. Below is a breakdown of emphysema symptoms and how to better manage them.

Persistent Cough

Persistent cough, also known as a “smoker’s cough,” is a common symptom for those with emphysema. A smoker’s cough is known as a dry, hacking cough. Coughing is the body’s way of expelling harmful substances and foreign particles. Due to long-term damage from emphysema, the lungs get irritated, leading to the persistent cough.

One of the most common treatment options for a persistent cough is beta-agonists, also known as bronchodilators. Bronchodilators are inhalers designed to help open airways to allow more oxygen to enter the lungs.

Shortness of Breath

Shortness of breath is the feeling that breathing requires far more effort than is normally required. This symptom normally occurs while exerting oneself, during emotional experiences or feeling stressed. Shortness of breath is also referred to as labored breathing or breathlessness.

Shortness of breath can be a frightening symptom because it can feel like you cannot get enough air. In addition to using the prescribed inhalers, there are several seated and standing positions which can help reduce the feeling of shortness of breath.

Wheezing

A common emphysema symptom is wheezing. Wheezing is characterized by an abnormal whistling noise while breathing. In fact, wheezing is the result of damage or the narrowing of the tree-like structures in the lungs, or bronchioles, as air passes through them. As the air travels through abnormal pathways, the air causes a whistling sound.

Try eating foods with anti-inflammatory properties, such as those rich with vitamin C. Vitamin C-enriched foods include tomatoes, leafy greens, berries and citrus fruit. Your doctor may also recommend that you take anti-inflammatory medications to reduce inflammation.

Chest Tightness

Chest tightness is a common feeling for those with chronic lung disease. Some of the common feelings associated with chest tightness include the feeling that the chest is being squeezed or crushed, the chest feeling stiff or pressure on the lungs keeping them from filling up. Often, chest tightness happens at the same time as wheezing or shortness of breath.

To help relieve the feeling of chest tightness try a relaxation technique, such as the belly breathing technique. The belly breathing technique, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, can be done sitting in a comfortable chair or on a bed.

Treatment Options for Emphysema Symptoms

Emphysema Symptoms: What They Are and How to Manage Them

As mentioned above, there are a number of ways to help relieve emphysema symptoms, ranging from diet and medication to breathing techniques. While those techniques help with symptoms, they don’t address emphysema at the source – the lungs.

Over the past few years, more and more emphysema patients have searched for options beyond medication and pulmonary rehabilitation. One treatment option showing promise is stem cell therapy.
Here, at the Lung Institute, we use autologous stem cells from the patient’s own body to help promote healing within the lungs and which may improve quality of life.

If you or someone you know is battling emphysema, chronic bronchitis, COPD, pulmonary fibrosis or interstitial lung disease, it may be time to consider the Lung Institute. For more information on stem cell therapy, please contact us or call (800) 729-3065.

8 Comments

  1. Lung Institute

    2 months ago

    Bonnie,

    Thank you for your comment. I’m sorry to hear that you’re feeling tired and having back pain. It can be hard to stay positive when you feel tired and in pain every day. Making small change in your daily routine, such as healthy eating and staying active can help to improve energy levels. Before making any major dietary or exercise changes, it’s always a good idea to consult with your primary care physician.

    Many people with COPD have experienced an improvement in their quality of life after receiving stem cell therapy, and candidates in all stages may be eligible. To learn more, please call (855) 313-1149 to speak directly with a patient coordinator.

    Best,

    Lung Institute

  2. bonnie cheek

    3 months ago

    i am in stage 4 and tired all the time and have back trouble to boot. what should i do

  3. Phoebe

    6 months ago

    Dear Dale,

    Thanks for your comment and question. Treatment cost varies depending on treatment type. To determine if you’re a candidate for treatment and which treatment option may be best for you, more medical information is needed. Feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 to speak with our knowledgeable medical team over our secure phone line. Our medical team has a wealth of knowledge about stem cells, treatment options, candidacy and cost. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  4. DALE ROSANBALM

    6 months ago

    I NEED TO KNOW UP FRONT WHAT MY OUT OF POCKET MAY BE? IF I CAN’T AFFORD IT, THERE IS NO SENSE IN WORRYING ABOUT IT.

  5. Phoebe

    6 months ago

    Dear Shirley,

    Thanks for your comment. Typically, doctors use stages to categorize chronic lung diseases, such as COPD and emphysema. Using a staging system helps doctors better understand the severity of someone’s pulmonary condition and helps them develop a treatment plan. Generally, people in stage 3 are in the severe stage of their lung condition. Often, in stage 3, people have significant lung function impairment, increased flare-ups and experience more breathlessness than they had in previous stages. Read more about stage 3 by clicking here. It’s important to remember that chronic lung diseases affect everyone differently and at varying rates of progression. So, the disease may progress slowly for some people and quickly for others. It’s also important to see your doctor regularly and talk about your treatment options. While there is no cure for chronic lung disease, there are treatment options available to help manage symptoms. We’re happy to answer your questions about stem cell therapy for chronic lung disease, so feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 to speak one-on-one with our dedicated medical team. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  6. Phoebe

    6 months ago

    Dear Harvey,

    Thanks for your comment, and we’re glad to hear you found our article helpful. Unfortunately, at this time, insurance and Medicare don’t cover treatment. However, we’re hopeful that treatment will be covered in the future. It’s important to keep in mind that it may take a while before insurance companies and Medicare decide to cover treatment. Keep checking-in with our blog to read more articles on a variety of topics to help people with lung disease breathe easier. We’re happy to answer your questions about stem cell therapy for emphysema, COPD and other chronic lung diseases. Our dedicated medical staff has a wealth of knowledge about stem cells, treatment, candidacy and more, so feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  7. Shirley.

    6 months ago

    My Dr.told me that I am in stage 3 whatever. That is

  8. Harvey

    6 months ago

    I have got a lot of good information from this. I hope that I can benefit in the future but now I’m on SSI and my medical from what I’m being told here won’t cover me. Further investigation on my part is due. Thank you for all your information! Harvey

Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.



* All treatments performed at Lung Institute utilize autologous stem cells, meaning those derived from a patient's own body. No fetal or embryonic stem cells are utilized in Lung Institute's procedures. Lung Institute aims to improve patients' quality of life and help them breathe easier through the use of autologous stem cell therapy. To learn more about how stem cells work for lung disease, click here.

All claims made regarding the efficacy of Lung Institute's treatments as they pertain to pulmonary conditions are based solely on anecdotal support collected by Lung Institute. Individual conditions, treatment and outcomes may vary and are not necessarily indicative of future results. Testimonial participation is voluntary. Lung Institute does not pay for or script patient testimonials.

Under current FDA guidelines and regulations 1271.10 and 1271.15, the Lung Institute complies with all necessary requirements for operation. The Lung Institute is firmly in accordance with the conditions set by the FDA for exemption status and conducts itself in full accordance with current guidelines. Any individual who accesses Lung Institute's website for information is encouraged to speak with his or her primary physician for treatment suggestions and conclusive evidence. All information on this site should be used for educational and informational use only.

As required by Texas state law, the Lung Institute Dallas Clinic has received Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval from MaGil IRB, now Chesapeake IRB, which is fully accredited by the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Program (AAHRPP), for research protocols and stem cell procedures. The Lung Institute has implemented these IRB approved standards at all of its clinics nationwide. Approval indicates that we follow rigorous standards for ethics, quality, and protections for human research.