Emphysema - Putting It All TogetherThursday, March 22, 2012 - 11:27
Here is a summary of the important facts and information related to emphysema.
- Emphysema is a chronic lung disease that reduces the lungs' ability to expand and contract.
- When the air sacs in the lungs cannot expand and contract normally, less oxygen passes through the lungs to the body.
- Cigarette smoking is the major cause of emphysema.
- Diagnosis of emphysema is based on a review of symptoms, lung function tests, breathing patterns and, sometimes, x-rays or CT scans.
- A substance called alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) is thought to protect against some of the damage caused by cigarette smoke or other irritants. People with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AAT deficiency) are at a higher risk for severe disease.
- A blood test can establish the diagnosis of AAT deficiency.
- There is currently no cure for emphysema, but the symptoms can be lessened with medication, supplemental oxygen, and proper nutrition
Lung reductionsurgery and lung transplants are newer treatments for emphysema that are gaining acceptance but are still in the investigative phase.
- For people with emphysema due to AAT deficiency, weekly infusions of alpha 1-proteinase inhibitor may slow lung tissue destruction.