AirPhysio Blog

Emphysema – Condition and Treatments

Emphysema is a lung condition in which tiny air sacs in the lungs – alveoli – fill up with air. As the air continues to build up in these sacs, they expand and may break or become damaged and form scar tissue. The patient becomes progressively short of breath.

Emphysema is a type of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

The main cause of Emphysema is long-term regular smoking.

Symptoms of Emphysema

The symptoms of Emphysema includes:

  • Breathlessness with exertion, and eventually breathlessness all the time in advanced disease
  • Susceptibility to chest infections
  • Cough and phlegm production
  • Fatigue
  • Barrel-shaped chest (from expansion of the rib cage in order to accommodate enlarged lungs)
  • Cyanosis (a blue tinge to the skin) due to lack of oxygen.
  • Asthma will worsen symptoms.

Treatment for Emphysema

There is no cure for Emphysema, although it is treatable. Appropriate management has been shown to reduce symptoms, improve quality of life and help people stay out of hospital.

Management includes:

  • Smoking cessation (immediate and complete smoking cessation is the most effective treatment for COPD and Emphysema) and avoidance of other air pollutants
  • Respiratory (pulmonary) rehabilitation programs
  • Oxygen treatment, in advanced cases
  • Anti-inflammatory medications, medicine to widen the airways (bronchodilators) and loosen the phlegm, and antibiotics
  • Stress management techniques
  • Gentle, regular exercise to improve overall fitness
  • Influenza vaccination (yearly) and pneumococcal vaccination to protect against certain types of respiratory infection.

Changes to Lifestyle to assist in the management of Emphysema

A person with COPD needs to make a number of important lifestyle changes, including:

Quit smoking – techniques can include ‘cold turkey’, counselling, nicotine replacement therapy and medications that work on brain receptors. Evidence shows that counselling, together with medical therapy, is most effective.

Increase Physical Activity – try to be as physically active as possible. If possible, attend pulmonary rehabilitation, similar to using the AirPhysio device.

COPD Action Plan – Follow a COPD action plan.

Change Diet – Eat a healthy diet and try to avoid foods with possible irritants, as mentioned in the article.

Plenty of Rest – Make adjustments to your lifestyle and home environment to ensure plenty of rest.

Improve Hydration – Keep adequately hydrated to help keep the mucus in your lungs runny and easier to cough up.

Avoid Irritants – Avoid smoky, dusty, pollen or environments with other irritants.

Join a support group – Call Lung Foundation Australia (Tel. 1800 654 301) for information on a support group close to you.

How Does AirPhysio Help Treat Emphysema?

By using the AirPhysio PEP device to clean the airway and condition the lungs, this will assist in the recovery process or maintenance of Emphysema.

AirPhysio assists in 2 distinct ways:

  1. Firstly the clearance process of AirPhysio assists in clearing any blockage or build-up of excess mucus through the 2 stage mobilization and elimination method.
  2. Secondly, the vibration or flutter effect of the AirPhysio including the deep breathing method assist in conditioning the airway and assists to improve lung capacity through a physiotherapy method of exercising the lungs, similar to exercise.

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