Natural and herbal remedies for the treatment of emphysema.
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- What is Emphysema?
- Diagnosing Emphysema
- What Causes Emphysema?
- Help for Emphysema
- More Information on Emphysema
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As emphysema progresses so slowly, most people do not notice any symptoms or slight changes in breathing during the early stages of the illness. Unfortunately, this means that most people are only diagnosed when symptoms are severe, by which time the disease is in advanced stages and serious irreversible damage has already occurred. Symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath or dyspnea
- A persistent cough (with or without phlegm)
- A feeling of tightness in the chest
- A barrel-like distended chest
- Lowered oxygen levels may result in fatigue, irritability and difficulty concentrating
- Frequent headaches
Conventional treatments for emphysema focus predominantly on relieving symptoms and avoiding further respiratory complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Treatment may include:
Medications: There are a number of different medications that may be prescribed to help reduce symptoms and assist with easier breathing. These may include bronchodilators, diuretics, and corticosteroids. Many physicians will also recommend antibiotics and flu or pneumonia vaccines to prevent further lung complications. Ask your health care provider to inform you of all side-effects of any medication prescribed and be wary of prolonged use of antibiotics as these have a detrimental effect on the immune system.
Oxygen Therapy: Many people with severe emphysema find great relief with continued or transient oxygen use. This will increase the amount of oxygen available to the lungs and blood stream and may relieve some of the debilitating symptoms. There are different types of oxygen therapy and different methods of administration so speak to you health care provider about what options would best suit you should oxygen therapy be necessary.
Surgery: Two surgical options are available for those with advanced emphysema. The first is called lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS), in which surgeons remove small pieces of damaged lung tissue. This creates extra space within the lung cavity allowing the healthy tissue and diaphragm to work more efficiently. The emphysema still progresses slowly so this is not a permanent solution. The effects of this procedure are usually felt for about two years. The second option is a lung transplant in which a either one or both lungs are replaced with a lung from a donor. This option is limited as there is a long waiting list and a scarcity of donor lungs.
- If you do smoke, now is the perfect time to quit smoking naturally. This is the most important thing that you can do for your health at this point. It is also important that you avoid second-hand smoke, so ask family and friends not to smoke in your presence and sit in the non-smoking areas when going out.
- Practice regular diaphragmatic breathing exercises that help you control your breathing with your abdominal muscles.
- Avoid other respiratory irritants such as paint fumes, dust, air pollutants, perfumes and incense.
- Keep healthy with a balanced diet and regular exercise.
- Avoid respiratory infections where possible! Protect yourself against developing colds and flu and if they do appear, treat them as soon as possible so that they do not have time to develop into chest infections.
- Drink plenty of water!
- Avoid cold air. When you do go out in cold weather, wear a scarf over your nose and mouth to warm the air before it reaches your lungs.