Emphysema is a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that damages the air sacs in your lungs. These air sacs are responsible for exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide into and out of your bloodstream. When a condition such as emphysema causes inflammation and permanent scarring, these air sacs cannot do their job. The result is shortness of breath, which makes living your daily life more challenging.
Treatments for emphysema can help slow the progression of inflammation and reduce the severity of its symptoms, but there is no cure for the disease. That’s why prevention is key if you want to live a life without emphysema.
Does emphysema affect a lot of people?
An estimated 4 million Americans are diagnosed with emphysema. This means the disease is not an epidemic, but it is a health concern for a large portion of the American population.
Emphysema primarily develops due to irritation in the lungs. Those who are at highest risk for developing the disease are at risk due to:
- Smoking — Smoking is the leading cause of emphysema and other chronic lung illnesses. If you’re a smoker, quitting now can significantly reduce your chances of developing emphysema. Look out for secondhand smoke, too, because it contains the same irritants that can cause inflammation in your lungs.
- Poor working and living conditions — People who work or live in environments with lots of dust, fumes, pollution and other small particles that can be inhaled are at a higher risk for emphysema. Take safety precautions in these environments or reduce your exposure completely to lower your chances of developing emphysema.
- Alpha-1 Deficiency — Alpha-1 is a type of protein that your body uses for developing healthy lung tissue. Some people have a rare condition that causes a deficiency of this protein, which can allow conditions such as emphysema to develop more easily.
- Being over the age of 40 — Most people who develop emphysema notice the symptoms in their 40s. Assess your risk for the symptoms above and consider how your age may play a role.
You should visit your primary health care provider for a lung screening if you’re at risk for any of the above to make sure you don’t have signs of emphysema or another lung disease.
Contact the Lung Health Institute for emphysema treatment
The Lung Health Institute can help people with emphysema Breathe Easier™ with our lung restoration treatment™. This is a minimally invasive procedure that helps reduce inflammation in your lungs using healing cells from your own body.
Contact us today if you would like to learn more about this treatment and other options for improving your quality of life with emphysema.