Emphysema is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease(COPD). The other is chronic bronchitis. Emphysema causes the air sacs in your lungs to burst and may may damage the small airways in the lungs. This reduces the ability of the air sacs and airways to expel the normal amount of air from the lungs, which leads to problems with breathing. When you are having progressive difficulty in breathing, your vital organs can not receive as much oxygen as they should, which causes tissue injury and death.
In the early stage, the most common symptoms of emphysema are shortness of breath and a chronic cough. As the disease progresses, people may experience some symptoms below:
- frequent lung infections
- having problems with sleep
- feeling fatigue
- anxiety and depression
- reduced appetite and weight loss
- blue-tinged lips or fingernail beds
- coughing up with mucus
There is no cure for emphysema, but treatments are available to relieve symptoms and prevent further lung damage. No matter which treatment you use, it is necessary for you to quit smoking first. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do to help manage your symptoms. Talk to your doctor if you need help quitting smoking.
Inhalers. Bronchodilators are inhaled medications that relax the air passageways and improve airflow in and out of the lungs. Bronchodilators can be used for short-term use for those who need quick relief, or for long-term use to manage symptoms. Besides, inhaled steroids are often used to reduce inflammation and relieve your emphysema symptoms.
Oxygen Therapy. As the disease progresses, patients may find it increasingly difficult to breathe on their own. It will help a lot by using supplemental oxygen. Oxygen can be supplemented by using a range of devices, and it is convenient for you to use some of them at home. Depending on your needs and the time you stay at home or go outdoors, oxygen options various from electrically driven oxygen concentrators to cylinders of compressed gas. When people are using oxygen therapy, they should be monitored in case of oxygen toxicity.
Oral Medications. People with emphysema may be prescribed an oral treatment like prednisone. It can be used long-term to make it easier to breathe and to increase exercise tolerance. Besides, antibiotics are also commonly used. It can prevent lung infections like pneumonia.
Pulmonary Rehab. Pulmonary rehabilitation treatment could also help improve exercise tolerance and reduce flare-ups to improve your quality of life.
For people with severe emphysema, some doctors may recommend them surgeries to relieve the symptoms. One kind of surgery is to reduce lung volume. It removes small wedges of the damaged, emphysematous, lung tissue, which can enhance lung recoil and improve the function of the diaphragm. The other is lung transplantation. It could greatly improve quality of life.