Treatment

The thoracic team will discuss your evaluation with you and assist in determining your best course of treatment:

Medical Therapy

Medical therapy has been the mainstay of emphysema treatment for generations. While it cannot reverse the disease, it can help to slow its progress, minimize your symptoms, and make the most of your remaining lung function. Medical therapy has several key components:

  • No Smoking: As difficult as it may be, you must break the smoking habit. Controlling smoking behavior is the most important strategy at all phases of the disease to prevent further progression.

  • Taking Medication and Inhalers as Prescribed: You may be given inhaled medications and/or pills to manage your condition.

  • Preventing Influenza and Pneumonia: Because people with emphysema are particularly vulnerable to lung infections, you should have a flu vaccine every fall and a pneumococcal vaccine every 5 to 6 years.

  • Wearing Oxygen as Prescribed: If you have low oxygen levels in your blood, long-term, continuous oxygen therapy might benefit you.

  • Pulmonary Rehabilitation: The primary goal of pulmonary rehabilitation is to restore you to your highest possible level of independent function. Rehabilitation involves exercising, retraining the breathing muscles, learning to conserve energy, and becoming more knowledgeable about the disease. Exercising can give you more stamina, help you to manage shortness of breath more easily, and improve your overall quality of life. You are likely to be pleased with the results if you stick with the exercise program designed for you. To make this easier, the University of Maryland Medical Center has developed a Pulmonary Rehabilitation Network consisting of sites throughout Maryland and the surrounding states. That way, you can be referred to a site that is close to your home.

This page was last updated: June 3, 2013

         
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