The only known "cure" for emphysema is a lung transplant, although few patients are strong enough physically to survive the surgery.
Emphysema is commonly associated with bronchitis and chronic bronchitis.
Most AAT patients do not develop clinically significant emphysema, but smoking and severely decreased A1AT levels (ten to 15 percent) can cause emphysema at a young age.
To be emphysema, not only is there enlargement or overdistention of the alveoli, but also destruction of the alveoli; that is, irreversible loss of this tissue.
Emphysema essentially is caused by loss of elasticity (decreased compliance) of the lung tissue, from destruction of structures supporting the alveoli, and destruction of capillaries feeding the alveoli.
Emphysema patients are sometimes referred to as "pink puffers."
Support can take the form of support groups, counseling, advice, financial assistance, transportation to and from treatment, films or information about cancer.
Emphysema is also treated by supporting breathing with anticholinergics, bronchodilators, and (inhaled or oral) steroid medication, and supplemental oxygen as required.
The better part of the past few decades of research into the pathogenesis of emphysema involved animal experiments where various proteases were instilled into the trachea of various species of animals.
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In all, AAT causes about two percent of all emphysema.
The most important measure that can be taken to slow the progression of emphysema is for the patient to stop smoking and avoid all exposure to cigarette smoke and lung irritants.
Emphysema was traditionally a lung disease suffered by miners, especially coal miners, and has been referred to as miner's lung or black lung (Skinner 2005).
The combination of a patient's age, oxygen deprivation, and the side-effects of the medications used to treat emphysema cause damage to the kidneys, heart, and other organs.