Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Emphysema Treatment

The treatment for emphysema often includes bronchodilator medications to reverse wheezing, inhaled corticosteroids, oral corticosteroids, antibiotics, home oxygen therapy, and chest physiotherapy.

The treatment for emphysema may include:

Emphysema Drugs

Emphysema Bronchodilators

Bronchodilators open up the air passages making breathing easier. Narrowing of the air passages causes wheezing, commonly seen in some people with emphysema.

Inhaled bronchodilator medications can more quickly open narrowed air passages since they are inhaled directly into the lungs.

These medications come in two forms:

Some of these medications come in liquid form: a nebulizer pumps compressed air through the liquid, in order to create a mist of medication that can be inhaled. Most of these medications come as a metered dose inhaler.

Short-acting inhaled bronchodilators include:

Long-acting inhaled bronchodilators include:

Combination of long-acting inhaled bronchodilators + corticosteroid include:

Emphysema Questions For Doctor

The following are some important questions to ask before and after the treatment of emphysema.

Questions to ask before treatment:

  • What are my treatment options?
  • What are the risks associated with treatment?
  • Do I need to stay in the hospital?
    • How long will I be in the hospital?
  • What are the complications I should watch for?
  • How long will I be on medication?
  • What are the potential side effects of my medication?
  • Does my medication interact with nonprescription medicines or supplements?
  • Should I take my medication with food?

Questions to ask after treatment:
  • Do I need to change my diet?
  • When can I resume my normal activities?
  • When can I return to work?
  • Do I need a special exercise program?
  • Will I need physical therapy?
  • What else can I do to reduce my risk for bronchitis and pneumonia?
  • How often will I need to see my doctor for checkups?
  • What local support and other resources are available?

Emphysema Specialist

Physicians from the following specialties evaluate and treat emphysema:

Continue to Emphysema Home Care

Last Updated: Dec 10, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Emphysema References
  1. Doherty DE, Briggs DD Jr. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: epidemiology, pathogenesis, disease course, and prognosis. Clin Cornerstone. 2004;Suppl 2:S5-16. [15500179]
  2. Ebell MH. Systemic corticosteroids for acute exacerbations of COPD. Am Fam Physician. 2005 Aug 1;72(3):437-8. [16100857]
  3. Kerstjens H, Postma D, Ten Hacken N. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Clin Evid. 2004 Jun;(11):2003-30. [15652094]
  4. Weder MM, Donohue JF. Role of bronchodilators in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Semin Respir Crit Care Med. 2005 Apr;26(2):221-34. [16088439]
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