It is not easy to live and thrive with emphysema, but it is not an impossible prospect either. Learn how to make it easier on yourself.
Living with emphysema is anything but easy. As it gets progressively harder to breathe, you will also find that emphysema makes fatigue a part of your daily life, thereby, making it even more difficult to complete tasks that you would have managed easily otherwise. Reports show that something as mundane as taking a shower often takes emphysema patients over an hour to do. The winter months in particular are very difficult for emphysema patients. Stepping outside means combatting the cold air that makes it difficult to breathe. Staying in presents another problem altogether as the air indoors becomes dry owing to heating. Both these situations often lead to emphysema flare-ups. Some patients find tasks like walking outside to get mail or cleaning inside the house are too difficult, and maybe even impossible to manage. Flare-ups result in a number of breathing difficulties. However, this does not mean that there is nothing you can do to make living with emphysema a little easier on yourself. Here are a few top ways to help you achieve this goal. The first step to solving any problem is understanding and accepting it in its entirety.
What is Emphysema?
The extreme end of the spectrum of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema is one of the major contributors to this condition. In a normal person’s lungs, there are millions of tiny cluster-shaped air sacs that enable the separation of oxygen from the bloodstream. Emphysema results in the progressive and gradual destruction of these precious air sacs in the lungs making it difficult for your body to get enough oxygen. As the condition progresses, the inner walls of the air sacs begin to weaken and develop microscopic holes that further weaken the internal structure of the air sacs. Over a period of time, this means that a person with emphysema finds it difficult to draw oxygen from their bloodstream, leading to many breathing difficulties.
Furthermore, emphysema causes the airways that lead to the air sacs in the lungs to lose their elasticity. Owing to this, the air sacs eventually collapse and hold tight to the oxygen that is already in the lungs. This reaction brings about the classic struggle to draw a breath that emphysema patients face when they feel short of breath.
What can you do to make living with emphysema easier on you?
Like COPD, emphysema is a condition that is categorized as incurable. However, the condition can be treated, and it is possible to improve your medical prognosis, and make it easier to live with emphysema. These are a few key steps you can and should take to improve your overall health and wellbeing.
Get an Accurate Diagnosis
This one sounds like a no-brainer. However, the truth is that your treatment will depend entirely on the disease you are diagnosed with. Your medication for emphysema is likely to be different from the ones given to a COPD patient. Therefore, the first important step to take is to get the right diagnosis. It is not a long process either. Your doctor will take you through a short five-question test to screen you for emphysema and COPD. Once you have your diagnosis, you can move on to the treatment of emphysema. Since emphysema and COPD are progressive conditions, your doctor needs to be with you every step of the way. Often emphysema-related complications can see you heading to the hospital frequently. It is even possible that you reach a stage wherein your emphysema requires you to use supplemental oxygen or a ventilator assist device, especially during the nights. Proper treatment for emphysema includes the use of inhalers that help to reduce symptoms, slow down the progression of the disease, and enable you to live an active life even with emphysema.
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