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Treatment for Emphysema and COPD

While neither emphysema nor COPD can be cured or truly reversed, a variety of treatments are available that can help to relieve a patient’s symptoms and slow the development of the disease. Depending on the specific patient, treatment for emphysema and COPD may include one of more of the following options:

Prescription Medications

Depending upon the particular case, which type of COPD the patient suffers from, and the severity of the symptoms they are experiencing, a doctor may prescribe one or more prescriptions medications.


These medicines may help to relieve symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing, and breathing difficulties by relaxing the air passages that have become constricted.

Inhaled Steroids

Corticosteroid medicines that are provided as aerosol sprays to be inhaled may help to reduce inflammation and relieve the shortness of breath most patients experience.


In cases where a patient with COPD is also suffering from a bacterial infection, including acute bronchitis or pneumonia, antibiotics may be prescribed.

Supplemental Oxygen

Those with severe emphysema who suffer from low blood oxygen levels often use oxygen regularly at home and when they exercise to provide relief administered via narrow tubes that fits into both nostrils. Many require oxygen 24 hours a day, particularly in the later stages of the disease.


An important part of emphysema treatment is therapy that is designed to educate, counsel, teach special breathing techniques, help the patient to quit smoking, learn to eat a healthy diet, and begin an appropriate exercise regimen.

Pulmonary rehabilitation

Pulmonary rehabilitation programs teach patients special breathing exercises and techniques that are designed to reduce breathlessness and improve their ability to exercise and live a more active life.


Patients are provided with helpful advice about proper nutrition, particularly because many people with early stage emphysema need to lose weight, and those with late-stage emphysema frequently need to gain weight.


Patients with emphysema often find themselves physically limited, which may cause them to avoid physical activity. Starting an exercise regimen is important, however, because regular physical activity has been proven to improve overall health and wellbeing.


Depending on the severity of a patient’s emphysema or COPD, a doctor may suggest one or more different types of surgery.

Lung Volume Reduction Surgery

In this procedure, a surgeon will remove small sections of damaged lung tissue. Removing the diseased tissue helps the remaining lung tissues to expand so they can work more efficiently, which in turn improves the patient’s breathing.

Lung Transplant

For patients with severe lung damage, transplantation is considered, but only after all other treatments have been tried and failed. In order for a patient to receive a lung transplant, they must not only be eligible, but a compatible donor lung must also be available.


If someone you love is receiving treatment for emphysema, in-home care assistance may be needed. The experienced staff of Specialty Care Services can help. Contact us 24/7 for more information about our senior home care services in Washington, DC and the surrounding areas.

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