View Full Version : Can emphysema kill
Sep 11, 2007, 08:25 PM
:confused: id liketo know if some one out there knows abot emphysema & if it could kill you & how long does it take &whats the horrible stages of it because my father got it about a year ago andis doing poorly can't breath that good,cant go out that much,if too hot or cold,or walk very far,&he stop smoking&now my mom gots it is always been coughing for many years gets red&blue chocks spits up,still smokes won't stop ,they both been smoking for toooo many years my moms about to be 62 my dads 66 & they been smoking sense the age of 15 I'm wondering if they can die from it because I'm very worried for both of them & need answers & don't want any suprizes,I've been really sad&crying.cuz I got 2 beautiful kids I'm only 22 & want them in my kids life to see them grow up please some one tell me more that knows what there talking about please help me THANKS
Sep 11, 2007, 08:33 PM
I am so sorry your parents are going through this. I am sure it is very tough on you.
Emphysema is an irreversible degenerative condition. 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. Pulmonary rehabilitation can be very helpful to optimize the patient's quality of life and teach the patient how to actively manage his or her care. Emphysema is also treated by supporting the breathing with anticholinergics, bronchodilators and (inhaled or oral) steroid medication, and supplemental oxygen as required. Treating the patient's other conditions including gastric reflux and allergies may also improve lung function. Supplemental oxygen used as prescribed (20+ hours/day) is the only non-surgical treatment which has been shown to prolong life in emphysema patients. Other medications are being researched. There are lightweight portable oxygen systems which allow patients increased mobility. Patients fly, cruise, and work while using supplemental oxygen.
Emphysema - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emphysema)
There is not a current cure for emphysema.
Sep 21, 2007, 02:15 PM
Sorry about your folks. I've heard that exercise can help people with emphysema and there is a new medicine out for it I think. There is a good medicine called Chantix that helped my mom quit after 30 years of smoking. Exercise can help heal your mom's lungs. Unfortunately, some people won't quit smoking. I quit after smoking since I was 18 (I'm 22 now) because I watched my grandma succumb to emphysema and lung cancer. If you're dad is really sick and it is really making you depressed, ask your dad's doc. About local support groups for people with sick relatives. Hope this helps!
Sep 21, 2007, 04:15 PM
I've heard that exercise can help people with emphysema and there is a new medicine out for it I think.
Exercise is typically limited to patients with Emphysema. Exercise should ONLY be limited to doctor's orders.
there is a new medicine out for it I think.
There are medications out there that help the person with emphysema breathe better, but there still is no cure.
Exercise can help heal your mom's lungs.
The quote above is particularly bad information. Once damaged your lungs do NOT heal. Damage to lung tissue is permanent.
Sep 21, 2007, 04:22 PM
J_9 is right. I worked for 11 years as a Respiratory Therapist and can tell you that emphysema is terminal. There is no cure. There are medications that ease the breathing and the pain. There are outpatient clinics with a rehab focus that can help but nothing takes emphysema away. Yes, it is painful - for the person and their family. That feeling of helplessness. Family counseling is often recommended - in how to deal with what the disease is and what to expect and how to cope with the changes and the inevitable death. Much like hospice.
Sep 21, 2007, 04:59 PM
nikki_22 disagrees: My grandad had it, started exercising, and his doc said it helped. Not my fault if his doctor gave him bad advise. I heard him say it.
Please let me point you to the portion of the site that discusses how to use the comments feature.
Now, for the real lesson.
Emphysema is a disease that is grouped into the COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) category.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive and debilitating lung disease. The disease is characterized by irreversible airflow limitation in the lungs. The umbrella of COPD encompasses the following conditions:
* Emphysema, in which the alveoli in the lungs, the tiny sacs where oxygen transfer takes place, are destroyed and enlarged
* Chronic bronchitis, or the permanent inflammation of airways, accompanied by a chronic cough
COPD exacts a tremendous toll on society. It affects more than 16 million people in the United States, and by 2020 it is expected to rise from the sixth- to the third-most-common cause of death in the world (Kasper DL et al 2005). Unfortunately, there is no single safe and effective treatment. However, because COPD is an inflammatory disease in which sufferers are subjected to high levels of oxidative stress, high doses of antioxidants and natural anti-inflammatories may be able to slow the disease’s progression and reduce the amount of prescription medication needed.
Inflammation and Airway Restriction
The major cause of COPD in the United States is cigarette smoking, although it has also been linked to other factors, such as hyperresponsive airways, respiratory infections, and exposure to dust and environmental pollutants. The longer and more heavily people smoke, the more likely they are to develop COPD.
COPD is usually a progressive disease that develops slowly, often over the course of decades. In a typical case, a cigarette smoker would experience declining lung function for many years before being diagnosed with COPD and receiving therapy. During those years, while the disease is developing, the lungs are undergoing several changes characteristic of the disease.
The bulk of lung tissue is composed of alveoli, or tiny sacs, where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place. One of the primary factors in COPD is emphysema, which occurs when alveoli enlarge and cluster. This process destroys the very sensitive areas where gases are exchanged across thin walls. Emphysema occurs in stages. First, chronic exposure to an irritant, such as cigarette smoke, causes inflammatory cells (such as macrophages and neutrophils) to gather in the airspaces of the lung. These inflammatory cells release chemicals that damage the extracellular matrix of the lung, that is, the proteins that are responsible for providing structure to the lungs. Finally, the ability of the lung to repair the extracellular matrix is compromised, resulting in the coalescence of alveoli into larger, less efficient air chambers.
People with emphysema also suffer from airway obstruction, especially in airways less than 2 mm in diameter. A number of changes occur in these airways that aggravate the disease, including hypertrophy of smooth muscle cells, the formation of scar tissue in the airway walls (fibrosis), and the infiltration of inflammatory cells.
Underlying all this damage is an inflammatory response mounted by the immune system. In a typical case, cigarette smoke in the lungs would come into contact with macrophages (immune system cells) that normally patrol the airspace. In response to the toxins in the smoke, the macrophages release inflammatory chemicals and begin to recruit more immune-system cells, which in turn release more inflammatory chemicals, as well as enzymes that degrade the extracellular matrix.
These changes in the lung are detectable but incremental. Symptoms appear gradually and may actually have been present for many years before a patient seeks medical treatment. Coughing, sputum production, and breathlessness are the characteristic symptoms associated with COPD. Early in the disease, the patient’s physical examination may even be normal. Later in the disease, however, patients sometimes develop the classic “barrel chest” associated with COPD. It occurs because residual air is trapped in the lungs, leading to their hyperinflation. In addition, the increased effort required to exhale can produce wheezing, while pursed lips or grunting respirations may signal the patient’s efforts to keep the airways open by increasing pressure at the beginning of expiration (Lim TK 1996).
COPD is a variable condition, with some patients having more symptoms of emphysema, such as breathlessness and “air hunger,” while others manifest more symptoms of chronic bronchitis or asthma, such as wheezing and air trapping (Kasper DL et al 2005). The manifestations of COPD are not limited to the lungs. COPD also puts patients at increased risk of atherosclerosis and osteoporosis. Poor lung function and poor nutrition may cause muscle weakness, abnormalities in fluid and electrolyte balance, and depression.
Now, people with COPD (including emphysema), their bodies have learned to compensate for lack of oxygen and an increase of CO2 (carbon dioxide). Giving oxygen in the wrong amounts, whether by nasal cannula, mask, or exercise, wipes out the drive to breathe, making it harder for the patient to actually get good O2 saturations.
Lung tissue damage is NOT, and I repeat NOT reversible. There is NO cure once the lungs are damaged by emphysema, pneumonia, tuberculosis, etc.
How old is your grandfather now? How long ago was he diagnosed?
Sep 21, 2007, 05:13 PM
:confused: id liketo know if some one out there knows abot emphysema & if it could kill you & how long does it take &whats the horrible stages of it because my father got it about a year ago andis doing poorly can't breath that good,cant go out that much,if too hot or cold,or walk very far,&he stop smoking&now my mom gots it is always been coughing for many years gets red&blue chocks spits up,still smokes wont stop ,they both been smoking for toooo many years my moms about to be 62 my dads 66 & they been smoking sense the age of 15 im wondering if they can die from it because im very worried for both of them & need answers & dont want any suprizes,ive been really sad&crying.cuz i got 2 beautiful kids im only 22 & want them in my kids life to see them grow up please some one tell me more that knows what there talking about please help me THANKS
Apparently I was wrong about it. Sorry about the exercise advice. Maybe the guy who told my grandad that was a quack. Obviously, you should always talk to your doc about exercise first. Enphysema must not be curable maybe your dad's doc could help him find good ways to manage it.
Sep 21, 2007, 07:02 PM
There are always the "medical" people who will say that such and such a disease can be completely cured. I would like to read their information and references and studies they gleamed that information from.
Now one thing is true - if a person who smokes cigarettes or cigars stops at the very early signs of problems - there is a lessor chance of significant problems and a greater chance of living longer. The operative word is "chance." No promises, no guarantees.
Also a person can get emphysema and never be a smoker. My Dad had it and he did not smoke but he worked in a diesel shop back when there were no health and safety regulations about exhaust. When I was just a little girl I would stop there on my way home from school to see Dad and many times would have to look through the polluted air.
I sincerely feel for your Dad and your whole family. Enjoy every day with him. Make sure he goes to the doctor appointments, eats healthy, gets his rest, takes his meds, follows the therapies, etc. Many people live for years with emphysema. But remember to take care of yourself too - that is why family counseling is a good idea. As you are no help when you are falling apart. Yes I know falling apart is an easy thing to do. Been there. Take care.
Sep 21, 2007, 10:16 PM
The smoking puts him at higher risk for lung cancer,and heart disease, among other things.
His copd puts him at higher risk of gettting and potentially dying from common infections like bronchitis and pneumonia.
It is recommended to get vaccinated against the flu and pneumococcal pneumonia [pneumovax].
He is also at higher risk of lung failure [ the lungs not being able to keep the oxygen in the blood high enough ], and may end up on a ventilator / life support / breathing machine.
If this is the case, and depending on the cause, he may not be able to get off this machine as well as someone who does not have emphysema.
Perhaps you can speak to Him about a "living will" regarding end of life decisions.
No one can say how long someone with emphysema is going to live.
Tell him and show him how much you love him.
Grace and Peace
Oct 1, 2009, 10:14 AM
My Husband who is forty nine was diagnose with copd and critical emphysema. And he allso has two bullous on the top lobe of his lungs he is on spirva and allbuterol and he stillstuggling to breath so my question is whether to take the bullous off and if he would be able to breath better.