|Normal Lung versus Emphysemic Lung|
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- Inhaling toxins or other irritants
- Alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency (A1AD)—a genetic defect which can cause emphysema at an early age
- Long-term secondhand or passive smoke exposure
- Family members with emphysema
- Exposure to pollutants at work
- History of frequent childhood lung infections
- Increased sputum production (mucus from deep in the lungs)
- Shortness of breath with activity
- Increased shortness of breath.
- Rapid breathing.
- Choking sensation when lying flat. You may need to prop up with pillows or sleep in a chair.
- Trouble concentrating.
- Barrel chest, which is an increase in chest size.
- Increased risk of serious lung infections.
- Heart problems.
- Coughing up thick and/or bloody mucus.
- Weight loss.
- Breathing through pursed lips.
- Desire to lean forward to improve breathing.
- More frequent flare-ups, which are periods of more severe symptoms.
- Pulmonary function tests, called spirometry—to test the force of your breath
- Arterial blood gas test—to test oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood
- Behavior change program
- Combination of behavior program and medications
- Opening the airways
- Relaxing the breathing passages
- Decreasing swelling
- Treating lung infections with antibiotics
Breathing and Coughing Techniques
- Pursed lip breathing
- Controlled coughing technique
- Eat a healthy diet. It should be low in saturated fat. It should also be rich in fruits, vegetables , and whole grain foods.
- Maintain a normal weight. Excess weight causes the lungs and heart to work harder.
- It may be hard to eat because you feel full. Try eating several smaller meals during the day instead of a few large meals.
- Slow down your eating pace. This will make it easier to breathe.
- If you need to gain weight, add food or drinks throughout the day. Talk to a dietitian about how many calories you need each day.
- Pace your activities.
- Learn relaxation techniques and other methods to manage stress.
- Seek emotional support from professionals, family, and friends. Anxiety can increase your breathing rate.
- If you smoke, talk to your doctor about how to quit
- Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke
- Avoid exposure to air pollution or irritants
- Wear protective gear if exposed to irritants or toxins at work
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 06/2016
- Update Date: 06/24/2016