Lung conditions are unfortunately common in the U.S., including emphysema. Emphysema is a lung condition that affects the alveoli, which are the tiny sacks of air connected to the bronchioles, which are the smaller airways in your lungs. With emphysema, the alveoli become inflamed and lose their elasticity, which causes the bronchioles to collapse and trap air in the alveoli. This trapped air stretches out the alveoli and can cause them to rupture. All of this makes breathing difficult.
Thankfully, there are treatment options for emphysema. Keep reading for an overview of these options and discern which you should discuss with your doctor as the ideal treatment option.
Pulmonary rehabilitation is often the primary treatment option for anyone with emphysema. There’s a lot that you can expect at a pulmonary rehab appointment, from exercises to various forms of counseling. Pulmonary rehabilitation for someone with emphysema will mainly focus on lifestyle changes. Emphysema often comes from smoking, so rehab appointments seek to help smokers quit and improve other parts of their lifestyle. This includes nutrition counseling, emphysema and lung health education, and safe exercises.
Oral and Aerosol Medications
While pulmonary rehabilitation seeks to mitigate the causes of emphysema, medications can help alleviate the symptoms. Oral and aerosol spray medications are the most common prescriptions someone with emphysema can expect from their doctor. Many of these are either bronchodilators, which relax airway muscles, or steroids, which reduce inflammation and prevent emphysema from worsening. Unfortunately, steroids are not a permanent treatment option, as they can cause adverse side effects over time, such as high blood pressure.
If emphysema prevents you from getting the oxygen you need, your doctor may prescribe oxygen therapy. Depending on your health, you may only need oxygen therapy, or you may need oxygen therapy in addition to other treatments. The most common form of oxygen therapy uses a supplemental oxygen device that delivers higher percentages of oxygen than what we normally breathe. This means that even if your lungs struggle to work properly, your body can still get the oxygen you need.
Depending on the severity of the emphysema and other factors, your doctor may recommend surgery. There are two common surgery options for emphysema: volume reduction surgery and lung transplants. Volume reduction surgery removes some of the damaged lung tissue so your lungs can function better. A lung transplant completely replaces damaged lungs.
There are many treatment options for emphysema, and we hope this overview gives you a clear picture of what you can expect following an emphysema diagnosis. If your doctor prescribes oxygen therapy and you need to buy an oxygen concentrator, Bridge to Care can help. Our oxygen concentrators come at various price points to accommodate your financial needs and are high-quality, so you can breathe better on a budget.