Emphysema results from long term smoking – thankfully incidence in Australia (new cases) is on the decline due to a reduction in smoking but chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (the medical term for emphysema) still affects 1 in 20 Australians over 45 years of age and is the 5th leading cause of death. Unfortunately, it is almost entirely preventable.
Emphysema limits activity and lowers quality of life through shortness of breath, fatigue, cough, sputum production and chest tightness.
Ways to prevent emphysema and better manage it include:
- Stop smoking
- Get an accurate diagnosis – this will normally involve lung function tests
- Understand the disease – consider these resources
- Connect with a support group – read more here
- Vaccinate against influenza and pneumococcal
- Attend chest physiotherapy (breathing exercises, also known as pulmonary rehabilitation)
- Use medication, including mucolytics (to loosen sputum), inhalers to open up airways (bronchodilators) and steroid to reduce inflammation
- See your GP proactively, especially when you get a cold
- See a respiratory specialist and be assessed for home oxygen if severe
In light of Covid risks, it’s critical to diagnose and treat any underlying lung disease. Talk to the Osana team if you or a family member may benefit from screening and more proactive management.