Emphysema (Lung Disease)


A person with emphysema will have shortness of breath — during physical activity and, when the condition is more advanced, also during rest. Patients may eventually need supplemental oxygen and may have to rely on mechanical respiratory devices.

Other symptoms of emphysema include:

  • Chronic cough
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Reduced appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
Tests to diagnose: 

The following tests may then be conducted to make a definite diagnosis:

  • Pulmonary Function Testing (PFT)
  • High Resolution Computed Tomography (HRCT)
  • Chest X-Ray
  • Sputum Examination
  • Oximetry

Treatment includes:

  • Oxygen therapy
  • Bronchodilators such as beta-agonists and anticholinergic medications, which help to relax and open the airways
  • Corticosteroids that reduce inflammation
  • Antibiotics when there is evidence of infection
  • Lung surgery, or a lung transplant
  • Surgery for pneumothorax
  • Vaccinations against influenza and pneumonia
  • Purified human alpha-1-antitrypsin


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