Emphysema can take over a person’s life

Breathing becomes hard work. Just taking a shower or doing the laundry can be exhausting. Often, patients have trouble taking long walks, traveling and feeling confident leaving their home.

What is Emphysema?

Emphysema is a form of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease commonly known as COPD. In severe emphysema, the walls of the air sacs in the lungs called the alveoli are weakened and rupture, creating larger air spaces – this is known as hyperinflation.

When this occurs, the air sacs do not work properly and old air becomes trapped in the damaged areas. This causes the diseased parts of the lung to get larger and put pressure on the healthy parts of your lungs and diaphragm. As a result, you may find it difficult to breath properly and take full, deep breaths.

Healthy Lung

Lung With Emphysema

How is emphysema different from COPD?

COPD is a progressive disease and gets worse over time. Emphysema is a severe form of COPD. People who suffer from emphysema live with severe shortness of breath that often prevents them from doing simple daily activities without pausing to catch their breath or resting.

Symptoms of Emphysema

Inability to catch your breathDifficulty performing normal daily activities, such as bathing, getting dressed, doing housework, walking or eating without feeling breathlessFatigue or low energyPersistent coughWheezing
ExacerbationsProduction of sputum or phlegmChest pain or tightnessBlue or gray lips or fingernails when activeFrequent respiratory infections, such as bronchitis or pneumonia

Since the disease gets worse over time, patients often “get used to” the limitations their symptoms have on their lives. This creates a new “normal” for the patients without them even realizing it.

If you experience any of these symptoms and are not currently being treated, you should speak to your doctor immediately.

Know your treatment options for emphysema

Emphysema cannot be cured, but the right treatment can help you breathe better, be more active, and improve your quality of life. There are a few treatment options for emphysema, and your doctor can help you determine which is best for you.

Continuum of Care

COPD medication, “stop smoking” programs, pulmonary rehabilitation, oxygen

Zephyr Endobronchial Valve

Lung volume reduction surgery

Lung transplant

Non-surgical

  • COPD medication – This may involve inhalers, oral steroids, antibiotics or other prescription medications.
  • “Stop smoking” program – In order to benefit from minimally-invasive treatment options, you will be required to stop smoking to receive treatment.
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation – Your doctor may refer you to therapy to help you exercise your lungs and learn how to breathe more efficiently.
  • Oxygen therapy Emphysema reduces the amount of oxygen that can reach your bloodstream. Your doctor may prescribe oxygen therapy when medication is not doing enough for you.

Minimally-invasive

  • Zephyr Endobronchial Valve – The Zephyr Valve is a device for the treatment of emphysema. It is not another prescription medication or surgery that requires cutting or incisions. Instead, the Zephyr Valve treatment is a short medical procedure that is proven to help patients breathe easier, do more and enjoy a better quality of life.
Learn More About The Zephyr Valve

Surgery

  • Lung volume reduction surgery and bullectomy surgery – A surgeon will open your chest and cut out areas of damaged lung tissue, or large air spaces (bullae). It has been shown to improve patients’ breathing but has a risk of side effects and death.
  • Lung transplant – When the lungs are too damaged to benefit from surgery, certain patients may meet the criteria for lung transplantation surgery. If patients receive this treatment, they must take immune-suppressing medications for the rest of their lives. However, the transplant also carries high-risk complications such as organ rejection or death.