… Continued …
- Have no known risk factor of emphysema. For instance, many patients with emphysema linked to AAT deficiency are not a smoker.
- Have a family history of the disease.
AAT deficiency is not only linked to COPD. For example – if you have liver disease without known cause or/and if you have a family member (especially first degree relatives such as parent, brother, or sister) with liver disease, your doctor may also ask you to take test for AAT deficiency to help identify the underlying cause.
Treatments for emphysema in adults
The disease can be serious or even life-threatening if poorly controlled. The goal of the treatment is to control and prevent the disease from worsening since the damaged alveoli can be irreversible. The main treatments include:
- Avoid smoking, including for secondhand smoke. It’s also important to avoid any airborne irritants such as manufacturing fumes.
- Pulmonary rehabilitation. In this therapy, one of the main goals is to learn how to breathe more effectively.
- Oxygen therapy. Emphysema can lead to lack of oxygen in the blood due to the damaged alveoli (the place where gas exchange in the lung occurs). That’s why it’s not uncommon to see some patients with emphysema require oxygen therapy to help restore the normal amount of oxygen in the blood.
- Surgery, this is one of the last options. For example, the doctor may need to remove the damaged parts of the lung in order to improve shortness of breath and improve the lung function. Even if necessary, lung transplant may be suggested if other treatments don’t work.
If the disease occurs due to lack of AAT in the blood, replacement therapy can help restore the balance of the deficiency. In this therapy, the patient will take infusions of natural ATT obtained from donor.