Emphysema is a gradually developing long term disease that affects the lungs. Among the functions of the lungs in the body is to facilitate oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange between the blood and air inside the lungs. Emphysema afflicts and destroys the alveolar walls of the lungs and the many blood capillary running through them.
During the early stages of emphysema, inflammation occurs within the bronchioles, which limits the amount of air and oxygen that enters into the lung. When the disease becomes advanced the area where air meets blood in the lungs becomes reduced. This results in increased difficulty of air entering and leaving the lungs. The patient is thus forced to take more rapid breathes to compensate for the shortage of oxygen.
In a short time the airways become more constrict and the heart has to work harder to supply blood through the tight blood channels. The blood pressure within the lungs will increase and over time can result in heart failure.
Emphysema is usually known to manifest in patients above 50 years. It is described as a type of COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Other COPD diseases include asthma, bronchiectasis, and chronic bronchitis.
The usual symptoms of emphysema include wheezing and shortness of breath. The shortness of breath usually occurs when the patient engages in activity in the early stages of the disease. Progressively, shortness of breaths can occur more frequently even absent of activity.
There is currently no cure for emphysema. The aim of various types of Emphysema treatment is basically to slow the development of the disease, treat the afflicted airways, relieve the symptoms and improve the general quality of the patient’s life.
Medical Forms of Emphysema Treatment
There is currently no emphysema treatment medication that that successfully stops or reverses the advancement of the disease. There are some medications that can reduce or eliminate the progression of the symptoms. Such medications can also increase the patients exercise tolerance levels and improve their health.
One of the most common ways that emphysema patients manage their symptoms is through the use of inhalers, and there are two primary types used for this condition—bronchodilators and corticosteroids. Bronchodilator inhalers help to reduce symptoms by clearing the airways of mucus and helping to loosen the bronchial muscles.
On the other hand, corticosteroid inhalers help provide relief by reducing the amount of inflammation in the airways. Additionally, there are some inhalers that combine medications used in both bronchodilators and corticosteroids.
Common medications used to treat this COPD disease include vaccines, antibiotics (used only to treat infectious exacerbations), glucocorticoids and broncocorticoids.
Surgical Intervention For Emphysema
There are three options of lung surgical treatment for emphysema that are usually considered during end stage of the disease. Surgical treatment options include Lung Transplant, Bullectomy and Lung Volume Reduction.
Non-Medical Emphysema Treatment
Non-medical treatments of COPD refer to forms of treatment that are not medical related, but that can significantly improve the patient’s health.
Pulmonary Rehabilitation For Emphysema
Pulmonary rehabilitation includes proper assessment, education, exercise and psychological support to reduce the present disease symptoms and improve the patient’s ability to participate in daily activities. Benefits of the rehabilitation include improvement of exercise tolerance and the reduction of the breathlessness symptom.
Rehabilitation program also reduces possible accompanying depression and anxiety, as well as the number of COPD hospital visits and duration of hospital stay. In all, it can greatly improve endurance levels and quality of patient life. A program of effective pulmonary rehabilitation should last at least six weeks. However, the longer the rehabilitation program lasts, the better.
Oxygen Therapy For Emphysema
This form of emphysema treatment is administered to reduce or relieve the occurrence and effect of the shortness of breath symptom. The treatment can be administered on a continuous basis or during an episode. Long-term therapy lasting 15 hours a day has been known to preserve the body’s vital organs and increase survival rates. Oxygen therapy is usually administered on COPD patients during advanced stages of the disease, when blood oxygen level is very low.
Stop Smoking for Emphysema
Smoking greatly aggravates COPD and stopping the habit is still the most effective way to treat the disease. Sadly, a lot of people ignore this effective form of non-medical emphysema treatment. When patients quit smoking of cigarettes they can greatly reduce and eliminate the symptoms of the disease, and slow down its progression.
While there are no total emphysema treatment that offers complete remedy, healthy living and some forms of COPD medication can help manage emphysema.