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Emphysema (cont.)

Important of Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Pulmonary rehabilitation is probably the most effective therapy for COPD patients with emphysema. Graded physical exercise, proper breathing techniques, education about the disease and available therapies empowers the patient. It improves quality of life and decreases hospitalizations.

Emphysema Follow-up

If you have emphysema, follow-up care is crucial to managing this disease. You need to become a partner with your doctor in the management of your health.

As Benjamin Franklin wrote, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Realistically, the "cures" or treatments available to doctors and people dealing with emphysema are far more difficult and far less effective than preventing the progression of the disease in the first place.

Emphysema Prevention

The prevention of emphysema is closely linked to the prevention of smoking. The primary risk factor for this disease that you can control is the smoking of cigarettes. Those who are daily smokers put themselves and their health at increasing risk with every pack of cigarettes and with every year they continue to smoke. For individuals that have emphysema caused by other causes such as air pollution, avoiding the pollution is the best first step toward prevention.

Flare-ups of emphysema can be reduced or prevented by taking medications as prescribed and seeking medical care for any signs or symptoms of respiratory infection or shortness of breath. Also, if you have emphysema, you should keep current on vaccines that can prevent respiratory infection. It is important to obtain the pneumococcal vaccine every 5 years and the influenza virus vaccine every year, before flu season.

Emphysema Prognosis

Emphysema is a chronic lower respiratory disease, the third leading cause of death in the United States. It is a chronic, progressive disease that affects the quality of life at least as much as the length of life.

Similar to many chronic diseases, the prognosis is affected by too many variables to be discussed here. There is no cure, but there are effective methods of treatment, which can slow the progression of the disease and allow for a normal life.

In short, the diagnosis of emphysema is not a death sentence. Rather, it is a medical condition that should prompt you to take an active role in the management of your disease. Quitting smoking is the best first step. Regular visits to your doctor and taking medications as prescribed are also very important. However, the prognosis decreases if the individual decides to continue to smoke.

Medically reviewed by James E Gerace, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Pulmonary Disease

REFERENCES:

eMedicine.com. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Emphysema
<http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/807143-overview>

eMedicine.com. Emphysema.
<http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/298283-overview>

Previous contributing authors and editors: Author: Christopher J Ware, MD, Staff Physician, Department of Emergency Medicine, Temple University School of Medicine.

Coauthor(s): Joseph S Bushra, MD, FAAEM, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Temple University School of Medicine Philadelphia, PA, Attending Physician, Department of Emergency Medicine, The Lankenau Hospital Wynnewood, PA.

Editors: Ruben Olmedo, MD, Chief, Division of Toxicology, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Mount Sinai Medical Center; Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD, Senior Pharmacy Editor, eMedicine; James S Cohen, MD, Consulting Staff, James Cohen, PC.


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/10/2016

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Emphysema »

The word emphysema is derived from Greek and means "to blow into," hence "air containing" or "air inflated."

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