Emphysema Treatment in Santa Monica, CA
What is Emphysema?
Emphysema is a lung disease that forms part of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) along with chronic bronchitis. It causes damage to your alveoli (air sacs in the lungs). Eventually, due to this damage, the alveoli weaken and rupture, reducing the surface area of the lungs and making it progressively harder to breathe as less oxygen is delivered to the bloodstream.
There are three types of emphysema:
- Centrilobular emphysema: Most common type of emphysema that begins in the respiratory bronchioles and impacts the upper half of the lungs; associated with cigarette smokers
- Panlobular emphysema: Primarily impacts the lower half of the lungs and damages alveolar tissues; associated with genetic disease
- Paraseptal emphysema: Localized around the septae of the lungs; associated with lung infections
While the damage that occurs to the lungs from emphysema cannot be reversed, treatment can focus on slowing the progression of the disease and preventing further damage. To schedule a consultation with a healthcare practitioner in Santa Monica who specializes in emphysema treatment, call (424) 365-1800 or contact Dr. Jeremy Fischer online.
What Causes Emphysema?
The most prevalent cause of both emphysema and COPD is cigarette smoke, accounting for almost 90% of cases. The risk increases the more you smoke and from exposure to secondhand smoke. Other lung irritants, too, can cause emphysema to develop, including marijuana smoke, environmental pollutants and chemical fumes.
In rare instances, emphysema is caused by an inherited deficiency in a protein called alpha-1-antitrypsin. This protein is produced in the liver and is responsible for protecting the lungs from neutrophil elastase.
What are the Symptoms of Emphysema?
You may have emphysema for years without experiencing any symptoms. When emphysema symptoms do begin, they tend to develop gradually and may only be felt when completing tasks that require physical exertion. Over time, these symptoms will start to interfere with your daily activities whether active or at rest. These symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chronic bronchitis
- Difficulty breathing during exercise
- Weight loss
- Frequent lung infections
Most people begin to experience emphysema symptoms between the ages of 40 and 60 as years of smoke exposure gives way to lung damage. If you experience any of these symptoms—particularly shortness of breath—for several months without relief, it's important to seek medical guidance. Immediate medical care is needed if you develop blue or gray lips or fingernails due to lack of oxygen.
Diagnosis & Treatment Options for Emphysema Sufferers
If you suspect you suffer from emphysema or other lung condition, your healthcare provider will begin by reviewing your medical history and conducting a physical examination. He or she may utilize several different diagnostic tests to look at your lungs and to determine the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood. Testing may include:
- Pulmonary function test to measure how well your lungs can breathe in and out, as well as their ability to deliver oxygen to the bloodstream
- Blood tests to see how your lungs transfer oxygen to the bloodstream
- Imaging tests including a chest X-ray or CT scan
If an emphysema diagnosis is confirmed through testing, your healthcare provider can determine the stage of emphysema to gauge its severity and to help formulate a treatment plan. Regardless of your stage, however, your treatment will focus on slowing the progression of the disease since the damage it has already caused cannot be reversed.
The first step to any emphysema treatment plan is to quit smoking if you are a current smoker. Your healthcare provider can recommend a smoking cessation program to help you ditch the habit which is contributing to your lung damage. In addition, your treatment may include:
- Medications to relieve coughing, shortness of breath and inflammation
- Antibiotics to treat a bacterial lung infection, if present, which could worsen symptoms
- Pulmonary therapy to teach you techniques to make it easier to breathe
- Gentle exercise such as tai chi, yoga or walking to help strengthen breathing and alleviate symptoms
- Oxygen therapy to deliver supplemental oxygen when you exercise or, in more severe cases, 24 hours a day
- Lung reduction surgery to remove parts of damaged lung
- Lung transplant, in severe cases, when other therapies have failed
Emphysema Life Expectancy
Early detection and intervention is key to minimizing the severity of emphysema. Your prognosis is dependent on the stage of emphysema, your lifestyle habits, as well as the presence of other life-threatening conditions, such as a collapsed lung, which may develop due to your condition.
Schedule a consultation with a healthcare clinic in Santa Monica that can evaluate your emphysema symptoms and provide critical therapeutic interventions which can improve the quality of your life. Call (424) 365-1800 or contact Dr. Jeremy Fischer online.
Vitality Integrative Medicine
Address4849 Van Nuys Blvd
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Tue: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Wed: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Thu: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Fri: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sat: 8:00 am - 12:00 pm