The official blog of the Lung Institute.

Emphysema Treatment Options

Emphysema Treatment Options

Emphysema is a progressive disease, meaning it gets worse over time. It’s a condition that affects the lungs, causes shortness of breath and impacts the exchange of oxygen in the lungs. This forces the other organs in the body to work harder to spread oxygen throughout the body. While there is no cure for emphysema, there are emphysema treatment options that can help improve the quality of life of individuals with this condition.

What are Some Emphysema Treatment Options?

Emphysema treatment options typically seek to address the following issues:

  • bronchial muscle contraction
  • mucus and congestion
  • inflammation of the airways
  • airway secretions

You and your doctor will work together to develop a treatment plan. Often, emphysema treatment options include inhalers, oral medications, supplemental oxygen, surgery, pulmonary rehab and stem cell therapy. It’s important to follow your doctor’s treatment plan and to take medications exactly as prescribed.


Emphysema Treatment Options

Bronchodilators are inhaled medications that relax the air passageways, improving airflow in and out of the lungs. They can be used short-term to provide quick-relief for symptom flare-ups, or long-term to manage symptoms.

Inhaled steroids, such as corticosteroids, are frequently prescribed to treat emphysema. They reduce inflammation to relieve emphysema symptoms.

Oral Medications

Oral medications can be used long-term to make it easier to breathe and to increase exercise tolerance. Prednisone is commonly prescribed with bronchodilators. Antibiotics are also commonly prescribed to prevent pulmonary infections like pneumonia. Other medications such as Mucinex and Robitussin may also be taken to help bring up mucus from the lungs.

Supplemental Oxygen

Many people with emphysema use supplemental oxygen to ensure the body receives enough oxygen. Some people require supplemental oxygen 24 hours a day, while others use it as needed.

Most tanks are made from steel or aluminum and can be bulky. There are also liquid oxygen tanks available, which are more compact and can be easier to carry around.


Sometimes a lung reduction surgery can help to reduce emphysema symptoms. Not everyone qualifies for lung reduction surgery, and it is generally not performed on older adults because of the higher risk. Typically, those who have lung damage that’s centralized on the upper lobes of both lungs, tend to see the most benefit from lung reduction surgery.

Pulmonary Rehab

Pulmonary rehabilitation is an excellent emphysema treatment option that may help improve exercise tolerance, reduce flare-ups and improve overall quality of life. Doctors often recommend it after a lung reduction surgery or as part of a treatment plan.

The goal of pulmonary rehabilitation is to restore the highest-level lung function possible, accomplished through physical activity, various treatment options and developing coping techniques.

Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cell therapy is an emphysema treatment option that has helped several patients improve their quality of life. At the Lung Institute, stem cell therapy is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure that involves harvesting cells from a patient’s own body. A large percentage of Lung Institute patients have experienced improved lung function and an overall improvement in their quality of life after receiving stem cell therapy.

If you or a loved one suffers from emphysema and would like to explore stem cell therapy as a treatment option, we’d be happy to provide you with more information. Contact us today to speak directly with one of our patient coordinators.


  1. Lung Institute

    2 months ago


    You are correct that smoking is the major cause of most lung diseases, though there can be other factors from environmental to genetics. Here is a link to a recent article we wrote on the subject.

    We’re happy to answer your questions about stem cell treatment for chronic lung diseases, so feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 to speak one-on-one with a patient coordinator. We look forward to hearing from you soon.


    The Lung Institute

  2. Patricia

    2 months ago

    smoking seems to be the main cause of this illness. Are there other factors or causes to consider? for a smoker who has been smoking for 30 years is there a specific recommendation on how to quit progressively as the impact on the lungs to quit suddenly might be a greater shock?

  3. Lung Institute

    6 months ago


    First off, we are sorry to hear about your health problems and wish you the best. We are not sure what marginal emphysema means as well. We have written a number of blog articles about emphysema and you may want to read some to get additional information.

    You can learn more about stem cell treatments and have your questions answered by one of our qualified patient coordinators. Feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 for more information. We look forward to hearing from you soon.


    The Lung Institute

  4. Lung Institute

    6 months ago


    Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, insurance does not cover our treatment at this time. It usually takes several years before insurance companies begin covering newer medical procedures, once they’ve seen a financial benefit in their favor first. Attached is a link which goes over this information in greater detail. If you have any questions, please give us a call at (888) 510-9371. That way one of our patient coordinators can go over all your options.


    The Lung Institute

  5. Lung Institute

    7 months ago


    We are very sorry to hear about your condition and encourage you to not give up. For many of our patients, treatment has helped them feel better and breathe more easily. To hear more from our patients, check out our testimonials page. We’re happy to answer your questions about stem cell treatment, so feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 to speak one-on-one with one of our patient coordinators. We look forward to hearing from you soon.


    The Lung Institute

  6. Lung Institute

    7 months ago


    Thanks for your comment. We do operate under the guidelines of the FDA, but as of right now, the FDA doesn’t regulate a patient’s own cells because we do not use drugs. We’re hopeful that treatment will be covered by insurance companies in the near future, but it will take some time before the insurance companies see a financial benefit in their favor and then decide to cover it.

    However, you can learn more about stem cell treatments and have your questions answered by one of our qualified patient coordinators. Feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 for more information. We look forward to hearing from you soon. Also, we have treated more than 5,000 patients and more than 84 percent say they have an improved quality of life.


    The Lung Institute

  7. Lung Institute

    7 months ago


    Thank you for the message. We would suggest contacting your primary doctor to see what treatments he/she might suggest.

    We’re happy to answer your questions about stem cell treatment for chronic lung diseases, so feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 to speak with our knowledgeable medical team. We look forward to hearing from you soon.


    Lung Institute

  8. Lung Institute

    8 months ago

    Thanks, Marie!

  9. Lung Institute

    8 months ago


    Thank you for your comment, and for your service to our country. Please call (888) 510-7519 to speak directly with one of your patient coordinators. They will be able to answer any questions that you might have about treatment options and cost.

    -Lung Institute

  10. Lung Institute

    8 months ago


    Thanks for your comment. A rescue inhaler is great to keep with you in the event of an emergency. Your primary care doctor will be able to help guide you as to when to use the emergency inhaler. You can also check with your pharmacist, who will be able to provide helpful guidelines on when and how to use the inhaler.

    -Lung Institute

  11. Shannon

    8 months ago

    I was just diagnosed with moderate to severe emphysema. I DON’T have any symptoms, none! Dr. Wants me to use inhalers one being a “Rescue” inhaler. With no symptoms, how will I know when to use the rescue?

  12. Twila Martin

    8 months ago

    It sounds great I have very bad lungs I can’t walk around like I use to I can’t breathe.i have chf also it’s hard to do anything I cry a lot my grandkids want to do things together and I would love to but I can’t thank you

  13. Billy Moore

    8 months ago

    I have been diagnosed with copd,Is there anyway you can help?I’m a va PATIENT.Would like to know more about you’re treatment and if it could help me,does it cost a lot?

  14. Marie

    8 months ago

    excellent articles, very stress relieving to know in laymans terms, what to expect.

  15. nancy roberts

    8 months ago

    Thank you for the information

  16. Ricky

    8 months ago

    I Was told that i have m marginal emphysema .how ever i realY fell worse When i wake up in the morning i add mit i have smoked off and on since my diagnosis and am quitting today.it has been really hard for me because i had to place my mother in a dementia facility and that’s what caused me to start smoking again i guess i just gave up hope but like i say i want to quit starting today. Plus i have been fight prosTate cancer since 2002 i had radiation and haRmon therapy it came back 6 years later so i was sent to cleveland clinic for cryonic surgery which is kept me in remission so far praise the Lord . Also have a arthritis in my shoulders knees hips and spine so as you can tell I’m not in the best of shape please help me is m marginal mean just stay a little bit of emphysema or does marginal mean more I don’t know

  17. Colleen combs

    8 months ago

    About how miuch does it cost cause i heard insurance doesn’t cover which makes no sense to leave people suffer if theres help

  18. Marsha Cummings

    9 months ago

    Just wish tHere was a way to alleviate all the mucus that keeps coming up. If you consume a lot of liquids your mucus is RelentlesS. You still have tO dear with other issues as well as in my case of dealing with asthma; allERgies; sinus; COPD; MAC & coughing and trying to control your breathing.

  19. Margaret Baker

    9 months ago

    I have COPD, and Emphysema. My breathing has gotten worse. I am in remission from Lung cancer. I have asked my Lung Dr, if their is any thing else I can do. The tell me no. I know the dISEASE is their, but I would love to be able to do a lot MORE WITH MY LIFE. I DON”T WANT TO GIVE UP, I HAVE COME TO FAR. I WOULD LIKE TO TALK ABOUT THE STEM CELL PROCESS, TO SEE IF I CAN QUALIFY. a THE doS AND DON”T AND SO ON. I ONLY HAVE MEDICARE FOR iNS, AND I KNOW THEIR ARE SOME PLACES THAT WON”T TAKE THAT. tHANK yOU.

  20. Susan Dee Righi

    9 months ago

    Is your stem cell treatment approved by the american lung association and the fda? My pulmonologist does not think that it helps yet. She thinks that it will take many more years of research, etc., for it to be effective.
    Thank you,

* 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.