Emphysema is a chronic lung disease that damages the air sacs in your lungs, causing shortness of breath. Inflammation overwhelms these air sacs and leads to the buildup of irreversible scar tissue. This scar tissue prevents the air sacs from doing their job of exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from your body.
Emphysema has a few different causes, but the most common cause of the disease is smoking. If you smoke or have smoked in the past, you are at a higher risk of developing emphysema.
Why people with emphysema need to quit smoking
Smoking introduces irritants into your lungs that cause inflammation that leads to conditions like emphysema. If you’ve been diagnosed with emphysema, you may think it’s not necessary to quit smoking since you already have the disease. This would be a false line of reasoning.
Continuing to smoke when you have emphysema further irritates the lungs. This causes the disease to progress at a faster rate and increases the number of flare-ups you experience. In fact, for many people in the early stages of emphysema, quitting smoking is the only necessary treatment.
Treatment options for people with emphysema
Whether you’re in the early or advanced stages of emphysema, the most important part of your treatment is to quit smoking. Talk to your doctor about getting help with quitting so you can improve your quality of life.
Other treatments for emphysema vary depending on the severity of your condition and other variables like weight and age. Usually, treatments will include:
- Bronchodilators — Bronchodilators come in two forms to help treat the flare-ups of emphysema symptoms. Short-acting bronchodilators are used in emergencies to treat flare-ups when they occur. Long-acting bronchodilators can be used once or twice daily to help keep flare-ups from happening in the first place.
- Corticosteroids — Corticosteroids come in different forms, like pills or injections, that help reduce inflammation. These come with a lot of negative side effects, so they’re generally reserved for more advanced stages of emphysema.
- Pulmonary rehabilitation — Pulmonary rehabilitation is a program that helps people with emphysema strengthen their lungs. It involves exercises, breathing techniques and nutritional guidance all led by a health care professional.
- Lung Restoration Treatment™ — Lung Restoration Treatment can help reduce inflammation in the lungs by using a concentrated form of your own cells. It is a minimally invasive procedure and it can help people at all stages of emphysema breathe easier™.
Contact the Lung Health Institute today to talk to one of our patient coordinators about Lung Restoration Treatment or to schedule a free consultation.