Emphysema – One Bad Lung Disease
edited: Wednesday, November 13, 2002
By Karen Phillips
Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2002
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Herbal help for emphysema.
Medicine Woman Herbals
Emphysema – One Bad Lung Disease
WHAT IS EMPHYSEMA?
Emphysema is a condition in which there is over-inflation of structures in the lungs known as alveoli or air sacs. This over-inflation results from a breakdown of the walls of the alveoli, which causes a decrease in respiratory function (the way the lungs work) and often, breathlessness.
Early symptoms of emphysema include shortness of breath and cough. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis together comprise chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
HOW SERIOUS IS EMPHYSEMA?
Emphysema is a widespread disease of the lungs. Close to 2.8 million Americans have been diagnosed with emphysema.
Emphysema ranks 15th among chronic conditions that contribute to activity limitations: almost 44 percent of individuals with emphysema report that the disease has limited their daily activities.
Men tend to have higher rates of emphysema. In 1999, the emphysema prevalence rate was 53% higher in males compared to females.
CAUSES OF EMPHYSEMA
It is known from scientific research that the normal lung has a remarkable balance between two classes of chemicals with opposing action. The elastic fibers in the lung allow the lungs to expand and contract. When the chemical balance is altered, the lungs lose the ability to protect themselves against the destruction of these elastic fibers. This is what happens in emphysema.
There are a number of reasons this chemical imbalance occurs. Smoking is responsible for the majority (80% - 90%) of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) cases, including emphysema.
In addition, it is estimated that 50,000 to 100,000 Americans living today were born with a deficiency of a protein known as alpha 1-antitrypsin (AAT) which can lead to an inherited form of emphysema called alpha 1-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency-related emphysema.
HOW DOES EMPHYSEMA DEVELOP?
Emphysema begins with the destruction of air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs where oxygen from the air is exchanged for carbon dioxide in the blood. The walls of the air sacs are thin and fragile. Damage to the air sacs is irreversible and results in permanent "holes" in the tissues of the lower lungs.
As air sacs are destroyed, the lungs are able to transfer less and less oxygen to the bloodstream, causing shortness of breath. The lungs also lose their elasticity, which is important to keep airways open. The patient experiences great difficulty exhaling.
Emphysema doesn't develop suddenly it comes on very gradually. Years of exposure to the irritation of cigarette smoke and airborne pollutants usually precede the development of emphysema.
A person may initially visit their healthcare professional because he or she has begun to feel short of breath during activity or exercise. As the disease progresses, a brief walk can be enough to bring on difficulty in breathing. Some people may have had chronic bronchitis before developing emphysema.
TREATMENT FOR EMPHYSEMA
Healthcare professionals can help persons with emphysema live more comfortably with their disease. The goal of treatment is to provide relief of symptoms and prevent progression of the disease with a minimum of side effects. The healthcare professional's advice and treatment may include:
Quitting smoking: the single most important factor for maintaining healthy lungs.
Bronchodilator drugs (prescription drugs that relax and open air passages in the lungs): may be prescribed to treat emphysema if there is a tendency toward airway constriction or tightening. These drugs may be inhaled as aerosol sprays or taken orally.
Antibiotics: if you have a bacterial infection, such as pneumococcal pneumonia.
Exercise: including breathing exercises to strengthen the muscles used in breathing as part of a pulmonary* rehabilitation program to condition the rest of the body.
*The term "pulmonary" refers to the lungs.
Treatment: with Alpha 1-Proteinase Inhibitor (A1PI) only if a person has AAT deficiency-related emphysema. A1PI is not recommended for those who develop emphysema as a result of cigarette smoking or other environmental factors.
Lung transplantation: This is a major procedure, which can be effective.
Lung volume reduction surgery is a surgical procedure in which the most severely diseases portions of the lung are removed to allow the remaining lung and breathing muscles to work better. The short-term results are promising but those with severe forms are at higher risk of death.
Medicine Woman Herbals is proud to announce a breakthrough in the treatment of emphysema. Several years ago we developed an herbal formula for the treatment of asthma. The formula was very effective for asthma and was then tested on emphysema. We found that it had a very positive affect on emphysema as well. We offer the following testimonial from a man who found this product extremely beneficial: “I was diagnosed with emphysema in 1995. I was given a prescription for an inhaler and told that there was no other treatment available. The doctors said I would progressively worsen. In 2000, I was getting so bad that the inhalers weren’t working very well any more. My wife convinced me to try herbal medicine. I started taking Asthma Medicine. Within days I was completely off the inhalers and feeling better than I had in years. Two years later I am still taking the Asthma medicine and only need my inhaler occasionally. It has truly been a lifesaver.” By Don A., Tennessee
The name of this remarkable product is Asthma. This product is available from our website at http://www.grannyherb.com/.
PREVENTION OF EMPHYSEMA
Continuing research is being done to find answers to many questions about emphysema, especially about the best ways to prevent the disease.
Researchers know that quitting smoking can prevent the occurrence and decrease the progression of emphysema. Other environmental controls can also help prevent the disease.
If an individual has emphysema, the healthcare professional will work hard to prevent the disease from getting worse by keeping the patient healthy and clear of any infection. The patient can participate in this prevention effort by following these general health guidelines:
Emphysema is a serious disease. It damages your lungs, and it can damage your heart. See your healthcare professional at the first sign of symptoms.
DON'T SMOKE. The majority of those who get emphysema are smokers. Continued smoking makes emphysema worse, especially for those who have AAT deficiency, the inherited form of emphysema.
Maintain overall good health habits, which include proper nutrition, adequate sleep, and regular exercise to build up your stamina and resistance to infections.
Reduce your exposure to air pollution, which may aggravate symptoms of emphysema. Refer to radio or television weather reports or your local newspaper for information about air quality. On days when the ozone (smog) level is unhealthy, restrict your activity to early morning or evening. When pollution levels are dangerous, remain indoors and stay as comfortable as possible.
Consult your healthcare professional at the start of any cold or respiratory infection because infection can make your emphysema symptoms worse. Ask about preventative measures for influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia.
I hope that I have answered all your questions about this deadly lung disease. Further questions will be addressed through the Contact an Herbalist link on my web page at http://www.grannyherb.com/. You will also find a complete product line of pure extracts.
We can rely on The Wisdom of our Ancestors© to remedy our suffering.
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