Your lungs are filled with small sacs called alveoli. These alveoli fill with air on each inhale, take in oxygen, and eliminate carbon dioxide when you exhale. Alveoli play a critical role in your pulmonary system, but exposure to airborne irritants can damage them over time and affect your ability to breath.
More than 3 million Americans are living with emphysema, a respiratory condition that damages alveoli and causes shortness of breath. It’s most commonly caused by smoking, and it’s one of two forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Emphysema is a chronic disease, which means there’s no cure. It can increase your risk of heart problems and issues like collapsed lung, but the good news is that the condition can be managed — and you can continue to live a full, healthy life even with emphysema.
The key is actively managing your condition, and our team at Medical Associates Of North Texas is here to help. We specialize in chronic disease management, and we’re ready to develop an emphysema treatment plan that fits your needs.
Avoid smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke
Cigarette smoke weakens and damages the alveoli in your lungs over time. Damaged sacs break open to create larger spaces that limit the amount of oxygen your lungs can take in. Smoking is the leading risk factor for emphysema, and up to 75% of people with emphysema have a history of smoking.
The best way to avoid emphysema is to not smoke, but if you do smoke, it’s never too late to make healthy changes. If you’re diagnosed with emphysema, quitting smoking and avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke is one of the best ways to slow lung damage and improve your health.
Identify signs of emphysema early
Emphysema is a progressive disease, and lung damage happens slowly. Identifying the condition early means you can start treatment sooner, which helps slow damage and improve your quality of life.
Get screened for lung diseases if you smoke, have smoked in the past, or you’re regularly exposed to secondhand smoke. If you have symptoms, such as chronic coughing, shortness of breath, or chest tightness, schedule a lung evaluation right away.
Find medications that work for you
A number of medications and therapies are available to improve your breathing and lower your risk of health complications. You can use bronchodilator medications to relax the muscles in your airways to make breathing easier, and our team recommends flu and pneumococcal pneumonia vaccinations to help prevent you from getting sick.
Severe emphysema can significantly lower your blood oxygen level. If you have low blood oxygen, we may prescribe oxygen therapy to increase it. Some people only need supplemental oxygen at certain times, while others may need it all the time.
Make healthy lifestyle changes
An important part of living with emphysema is pulmonary rehabilitation. Pulmonary rehabilitation is a comprehensive program that aims to improve your overall well-being, and we tailor it to meet your unique needs.
Rehabilitation typically focuses on education and support to help you make healthy lifestyle changes. These changes can include getting regular exercise, eating a nutritious diet, and participating in a medical weight loss program if you have pounds to lose.
With a holistic approach to emphysema management, you can slow the disease’s progression and live a healthier life. Get the support you need with personalized care at Medical Associates Of North Texas in Fort Worth, Texas. Call us at 972-433-7178 or send us a message online to get started.