IN THIS ARTICLE
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 is the fourth 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
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/30/2014
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