Destruction of the air sacs in the lungs causes emphysema. It causes severe breathing difficulties. Long-term exposure to tobacco smoke or other chemical irritants destroys the air sacs and the elastic fibers that keep the air sacs open while inhaling air. Symptoms are usually mild at the early stage of emphysema. Over time as the disease progresses, severe shortness of breath interferes with the daily activities. Emphysema cannot be reversed. However, with appropriate treatment progression of the disease can be delayed.
Easing breathing is the primary goal of emphysema treatment. Inhaled steroids and bronchodilators are used for relaxing the airways, thereby improving circulation of air through the air sacs. Emphysema patients are also taught breathing techniques and breathing exercises that help to strengthen the lungs and reduce breathing difficulties.
Treatment Options for Emphysema
Bronchodilators are the most widely used medications for emphysema. By dilating or opening the airways, they ease breathing. Bronchodilators can be inhaled, taken orally or injected. Three types of bronchodilators are used in emphysema treatment – anticholinergics, beta2-agonists and theophylline. Anticholinergic and beta2-agonist bronchodilators are used in the form of inhaler or added to nebulizer solution. Long-acting bronchodilators are frequently used by emphysema patients to avoid breathing difficulties for several hours. Dryness of throat is a common side effect of inhaler use.
Anticholinergics work on the central airways of the lungs whereas the beta2-agonists help to relax the smaller airways. For best result, therefore, anticholinergics are combined with beta2-agonists. Although short-acting beta-2 agonist is primarily used for treatment, long-acting beta2-agonists are recommended at the advanced stage of emphysema.
Theophylline is sold as oral pills and intravenous drug. Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, headache, rapid heartbeat, muscle cramps and hyperactivity are possible side effects of theophylline.
The anti-inflammatory effect of corticosteroids helps to ease breathing by suppressing inflammation of the airways. They are frequently used in combination with long-acting bronchodilators by people with severe emphysema. Oral corticosteroids are used during emphysema exacerbations. Given the side effects of oral corticosteroids such as weakening of bones, diabetes and high blood pressure, they are unsuitable for long-term use.
Certain breathing strategies help emphysema patients to breathe easily. The pursed lip breathing technique is the most effective breathing method for people suffering from emphysema. With the lips tightly closed, you must inhale air through the nose for about two seconds. Now with the lips pursed, exhale air through the narrow opening between the lips.
Certain supplements are considered beneficial for people with emphysema. Coenzyme Q10 supplements helps to delay degeneration of the tissues. By promoting renewal of body cells, coenzyme Q10 supplements can slow down progression of emphysema. To reduce production of mucus in the respiratory tract, N-acetyl-cysteine or L-glutathione supplements may be very helpful.
Herbs that strengthen the immune system and reduce the risk of developing infections of the respiratory tract are beneficial for emphysema patients. Garlic is a natural antibacterial agent that can be taken daily by emphysema patients. Respiratory infections can be treated with Echinacea and goldenseal.
Caution: Please use Home Remedies after Proper Research and Guidance. You accept that you are following any advice at your own risk and will properly research or consult healthcare professional.