Emphysema Treatments

There is no cure for emphysema, but there are treatments and therapies that can help relieve symptoms of the disease. They include:

  • Medications:
    • Smoking cessation drugs
    • Bronchodilators to bring relief from coughing and shortness of breath
    • Inhaled corticosteroids for short-term relief
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation: This program teaches you breathing techniques to help reduce breathlessness and improve your ability to exercise.
  • Supplemental oxygen: Your physician may recommend that you breathe oxygen from a tank, via a narrow tube that fits into your nose.
  • Lung volume reduction surgery: Surgeons remove small wedges of damaged lung tissue in order to help the remaining lung tissue function more efficiently.
  • Lung transplant surgery: If all other options have failed, this may be an option for severe emphysema.

Reducing your risks

There are steps you can take to halt emphysema’s progression:

  • Stop smoking: This is the single most important thing you can do for your overall health and may halt the progression of emphysema.
  • Avoid secondhand smoke: This can also help you prevent emphysema from getting worse.
  • Avoid respiratory irritants: Changing furnace filters and air conditioner filters frequently can help reduce airborne pollutants. Avoiding paint and automobile exhaust fumes and other airborne irritants can help.
  • Exercise: Regular exercise can help increase your lung capacity.
  • Beware of cold air: Cold air can cause bronchial spasms, which may make it difficult to breathe. During cold weather, you should wear a scarf or a cold-air mask over your mouth and nose to warm the air entering your lungs. A cold-air mask can be found at a pharmacy.
  • Avoid respiratory infections: Annual flu shots and a pneumonia vaccination can help you protect your lungs from infection. Take careful steps to avoid getting colds or the flu.
  • Wear a mask while working: If you work with chemical fumes or dust, wear a filtration mask to protect your lungs.


  • Medications
  • Pulmonary Rehabilitation
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