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Prevention of Emphysema
Most cases of emphysema are due to smoking. If you smoke cigarettes, cigars or a pipe, your chance of developing emphysema is much greater than for nonsmokers. The best way to prevent emphysema is to not smoke or to stop-smoking. In addition, try to limit your exposure to secondhand smoke.
Although smoking is the most common cause of emphysema, occupational exposure to chemical fumes and dust also is a risk factor. Try wearing a dust mask for protection if you work in such an environment.
Continuing research is being done to find answers to many questions about emphysema, especially about the best ways to prevent the disease. Medical research clearly reveals 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, your doctor 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 doctor's general health suggestions.
Emphysema is a serious disease. It damages your lungs, and it can damage your heart. See your doctor at the first sign of symptoms.
DON'T SMOKE. A 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 and healthy 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 doctor at the start of any cold or respiratory injection because infection can make your emphysema symptoms worse.
Ask about getting vaccinated against influenza and pneumonia. To receive more information about emphysema, contact your local American Lung Association office.
Does Cold Weather make Emphysema Worse?
It may. Breathing cold, dry air causes narrowing (constriction) of the airways in some people with emphysema. This restricts airflow into and out of the lungs and makes breathing more difficult. To reduce the effects of cold air on your breathing:
- Wear a cold-air face mask when you are outside. You should put the mask on before going out. Cold-air face masks are available at many drugstores and medical supply stores. If you don't have a mask, wear a soft scarf pulled over your nose and mouth.
- Breathe in through your nose instead of your breathing from mouth when outside. This helps warm and humidify the air before it enters your lungs.
- Use your bronchodilator about 30-minutes before going outside. A bronchodilator helps open constricted airways.
Before making a permanent move away from a warm climate, we suggest you spend some time in a cold climate to see exactly how it may or may not affect your breathing and emphysema disease.