A type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema causes shortness of breath that gets worse over time. In the beginning, symptoms may be mild, but over time, they typically become more severe. Often, patients will find themselves having to restrict activity, and report increasing fatigue, shortness of breath and other challenging symptoms.
Emphysema will often be placed into one of four stages, ranging from mild to very severe, or end stage. These are measured by lung function tests, forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and other tests. Doctors use either the GOLD System or the BODE Index to stage emphysema. The GOLD System uses the results of the FEV1, while the BODE Index measures body mass, airflow obstruction, dyspnea (trouble breathing) and exercise tolerance to place emphysema into a category.
Traditional treatment options for emphysema
Because there is no cure for emphysema, treatment often focuses on pain reduction, temporarily improving breathing and suppressing coughing. Medications may include bronchodilators, which help open the airways, and inhaled steroids, which help calm inflammation. Oxygen therapy can help manage the low blood oxygen that may occur in advanced emphysema; at that point, the lungs’ inflammation and stiffening of airways can make it difficult for oxygen to reach other parts of the body, resulting in fatigue and potential organ damage from hypoxia, or low blood oxygen levels.
Pulmonary therapy may also help patients learn to live with emphysema. This may include physical activity, stress reduction, nutrition and emotional support. Lung transplants may be necessary as a last resort as the emphysema progresses.
Cellular therapy may help treat emphysema
While emphysema is not curable, cellular therapy is a treatment option that helps to address the underlying cause of emphysema rather than simply treating symptoms. It will not cure emphysema, but many patients have seen an improvement in quality of life and lung function. Cellular treatment uses a patient’s own cells to help reduce inflammation within the lungs. For more information about cellular therapy for emphysema, contact the Lung Health Institute today at 855-882-1292.