Emphysema

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: George Schiffman, MD, FCCP
    George Schiffman, MD, FCCP

    George Schiffman, MD, FCCP

    Dr. Schiffman received his B.S. degree with High Honors in biology from Hobart College in 1976. He then moved to Chicago where he studied biochemistry at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle. He attended Rush Medical College where he received his M.D. degree in 1982 and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his Internal Medicine internship and residency at the University of California, Irvine.

Understanding COPD

Quick GuideCOPD Lung Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

COPD Lung Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

What is the treatment for emphysema?

The first treatment for patients with emphysema is smoking cessation if they are currently smoking tobacco. This is a difficult lifestyle change for many patients, and without support from their doctors, family members, and friends; this most important treatment will likely fail. The best way to accomplish this difficult task is outlined in the "quitting smoking" section. In addition, there is pharmacological and surgical therapy available for emphysema patients and these therapies will be discussed in the next sections.

Quitting smoking

Quitting smoking is the most effective therapy for people with emphysema. Consequently, successful cessation is a major goal for people with COPD/emphysema. This goal usually can be reached with cooperation between the doctor, patient, family members, and friends. Quitting smoking usually requires patient education about the risks of smoking, methods to help the patient quit smoking (including a target date to quit), and follow-up support. Many people will relapse, but they still should be encouraged to try to change their lifestyle and attempt to quit again.

Many people may benefit from both self-help and group smoking cessation programs. Patients need to understand that nicotine is responsible for their addiction to smoking and may benefit from a program that allows them to slowly withdraw from nicotine addiction. There are several types of pharmacological interventions such as nicotine chewing gum, transdermal nicotine patches, and other treatments such as varenicline (Chantix) and Zyban that may be used to help the patient overcome their nicotine addiction.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/4/2016

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