Is Early Stage Emphysema Reversible?

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Unfortunately emphysema is irreversible condition, even though if caught and treated early. There is always a chance for emphysema to get worse and cause permanent damage in the lung.

But at early stage, the disease is much easier to treat and there’s greater chance to significantly slow its progression so thus it will not cause serious complications. Preventing the disease from worsening is the key since the destroyed lung tissue cannot be repaired.

With appropriate treatment plan (including some lifestyle measures, especially avoiding any airborne irritant), early emphysema is often successfully controlled and prevented from worsening – and the patient should be able to have a normal quality of life.

The prognosis and life expectancy depend on the stage of the disease, though this factor is not everything. Generally, people with early emphysema will live longer and have better quality of life than others with advanced stage of the disease. For more information about this prognosis, see this section!

Emphysema treatments

If you don’t have emphysema but have some risk factors of the disease (see in the previous page) and you do concern about your risk of the disease, see your doctor to completely understand any appropriate steps you need to follow to prevent the disease.

Once you’re diagnosed with the disease, you will have it for the rest of your life since currently it is incurable. The goal of the treatment, including for early emphysema, is to relieve the symptoms, control the disease, prevent the complications, and preserve the lung function.

The best thing to do for early emphysema is probably to keep the disease and its symptoms go into remission. Remission means the symptoms go away for a while – but not cured! The good news it may last in years.

But since there is always a chance for the disease to progress and get worse, it’s very important to always control it as well. Even if you have early emphysema, you should make every effort to slow its progression.

Depending on how far the disease has progressed, the treatment is just with lifestyle measures (most importantly, stop smoking if you’re a smoker) – or can involve medicines and particular therapies. Even in more severe case, surgical treatment is required.

The top advice from doctor for treating emphysema is to avoid tobacco smoke, including for secondhand smoke. Quitting smoking does work effectively to treat early emphysema since this is the single most important variable to preserve the lung function. It is also important in people with the later stages of the disease.

Patients with early, mild emphysema who stop smoking usually will have a normal life expectancy. Many of them who adopt healthy habits are often able to have a fairly normal lifestyle for a long time. But for those who continue to smoke, the severity of the disease often increase dramatically – even this may reduce the life span by abut ten years or more.

If the disease is linked to AAT deficiency, replacement therapy may be suggested to restore the balance of AAT. This therapy is effective but very costly and time consuming. It’s usually done with infusions of natural alpha-1-antitrypsin obtained from donors.

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