If you have emphysema, you can take a number of steps to halt its progression and to protect yourself from complications:
April 05, 2014
- Stop smoking. This is the most important measure you can take for your overall health and the only one that might halt the progression of emphysema. Join a smoking cessation program if you need help giving up smoking. As much as possible, avoid secondhand smoke.
- Avoid other respiratory irritants. These include fumes from paint and automobile exhaust, some cooking odors, certain perfumes, even burning candles and incense. Change furnace and air conditioner filters regularly to limit pollutants.
- Exercise regularly. Try not to let your breathing problems keep you from getting regular exercise, which can significantly increase your lung capacity.
- Protect yourself from cold air. Cold air can cause spasms of the bronchial passages, making it even more difficult to breathe. During cold weather, wear a soft scarf or a cold-air mask — available from a pharmacy — over your mouth and nose before going outside, to warm the air entering your lungs.
- Prevent respiratory infections. Get pneumonia vaccinations as advised by your doctor. Also get an annual flu shot. Do your best to avoid direct contact with people who have a cold or the flu. If you have to mingle with large groups of people during cold and flu season, wear a face mask, wash your hands frequently and carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer to use when needed.
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- Rosenow EC (expert opinion) Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 25, 2013.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Nov. 18, 2013.
- Weiss ST. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: Risk factors and risk reduction. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 18, 2013.
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- Ferguson GT, et al. Management of stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 18, 2013.
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