The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Living with a chronic lung disease presents many challenges. When symptoms, such as shortness of breath, constant coughing and fatigue make daily tasks difficult, it may seem like there’s no way to manage emphysema. Emphysema, along with chronic bronchitis, is a disease that falls under the larger category of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD, emphysema and chronic bronchitis are obstructive lung diseases. Emphysema damages the air sacs in the lungs, making breathing difficult. We’ve compiled 5 easy steps to help you manage emphysema.
5. Be Prepared for Emergencies
From inclement weather to a sudden flare-up of emphysema symptoms, having a plan in case of emergencies is important. Keep a list of your current medications, dosage, instructions for use and list any food, medication and environmental allergies in your wallet. Remember to include your doctors’ names, their phone numbers as well as the names and phone numbers of friends and family to contact on your medications list as well. Keep your rescue inhalers and any other medications your doctor prescribed for emergencies with you at all times.
If poor weather conditions worsen your emphysema symptoms, being mindful of the weather will help you prevent having a flare-up. For some people, extremes in heat or cold can act as a trigger for emphysema symptoms.
4. Receive Emotional Support
Because living with a chronic condition present daily challenges, it’s normal to feel frustrated, angry, afraid, worried and depressed. You may experience times when you feel better emotionally and moments when you feel worse emotionally. Remember that these fluctuations are normal, and allowing yourself to feel these emotions is an important step. Sometimes, however, the negative emotions may feel too overwhelming. There are some things you can do to help you feel better, including talking to your close friends and family, joining a lung disease support group and seeking the assistance of a professional mental health counselor.
Your close family and friends are there to support you. Help them understand what you’re going through and what they can do to help you manage emphysema. Support groups are excellent sources of encouragement because you’ll be surrounded by people who also have chronic lung diseases and understand what you’re going through. By talking with a mental health professional, you can learn coping techniques, relaxation techniques and strategies to improve your overall quality of life. Remember, you don’t have to go through this alone, and there are many people, counselors and support groups ready to help.
3. Avoid Lung Irritants to Manage Emphysema
To manage emphysema, it’s essential to avoid lung irritants. High amounts of air pollution, airborne allergens, smoke and chemical fumes can make breathing more difficult. Staying indoors during days of poor air quality or when it’s very hot or very cold outside can help you avoid triggers.
Household cleaners, perfumes and indoor allergens, such as dust and mold, are indoor irritants that can also cause symptom flare-ups. Look for cleaners that don’t irritate your emphysema and are fragrance-free and contain non-toxic, simple ingredients, like baking soda, vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. Consider removing curtains, carpets and dust collecting objects from your home. Place mattresses and pillows in dust mite-proof, zippered cases, and wash bedding weekly at high temperatures to make sure it is cleaned thoroughly.
2. See Your Doctor Regularly
To manage emphysema, it’s important to see your doctor regularly. Your doctor will monitor your lungs, your symptoms and your treatment plan. While you are at your doctor’s office, you will be able to discuss what vaccinations you need, such as a flu shot or pneumonia vaccine. Because people with chronic lung diseases can catch colds, flus and pneumonia more easily, getting vaccinated is an easy prevention step.
If you or your doctor notices a change in your lung health, you may want to modify your treatment plan. Keep a list of questions or concerns you have, so you can discuss them with your doctor. Some doctors may want you to monitor your blood oxygen levels at home with a pulse oximeter. Some doctors may prescribe oxygen therapy, and others may recommend pulmonary rehabilitation. There are treatment options available to manage emphysema, so seeing your doctor regularly, even if you feel well, is important to deciding what treatments will be best for you. If you experience a sudden change in symptoms, call your doctor immediately.
1. Follow Your Treatment Plan to Manage Emphysema
While there isn’t a cure for emphysema, there are treatment options available to help you manage it and have the best quality of life possible. You and your doctor will work together closely to develop the best treatment plan for you. Your doctor may recommend medications like inhalers and steroids as well as oxygen therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation. Some people have found alternative treatments such as acupuncture, herbs, vitamins, diet, exercise and stem cell therapy helpful to manage emphysema.
Many people have reported an improved quality of life after receiving stem cell treatment. In fact, many patients are able to reduce or come off of their oxygen, exercise more and perform daily tasks with ease. Stem cell treatment works to promote healing within the lungs, helping patients breathe more easily. If you or a loved one has emphysema, chronic bronchitis or COPD and would like to learn more, contact us at (800) 729-3065.