How can I prevent emphysema?

No Smoking sign

One of the most important things you can do to avoid emphysema is to not smoke cigarettes. If you smoke, it is not too late to quit. Some kinds of damage can be repaired. Your lungs will improve if you quit smoking now. Quitting smoking has proven health benefits, even at a late age. When an older person quits smoking, circulation improves immediately, and the lungs begin to repair some kinds of damage.

You should try to avoid air pollution and other environmental conditions, which may injure the lungs. Damage caused by pollutants can also be reversed by avoiding the cause and by treatment.

Once lung damage has progressed to emphysema, or COPD, it cannot be completely reversed. Progression of the disease can only be delayed with treatment. While treatment can help make the person feel better, the main goal then is to slow further loss of lung function. There is no cure for COPD.

To learn more:

Alpha-1 Foundation
This Web site covers some of the signs of people at risk of having Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alph-1) and tells them how to get screened for it. For people who have been diagnosed with Alpha-1, there are many tips for staying healthy. Click on the tab marked Alpha-1 at the top of the page.
Can occupational respiratory disease be prevented or avoided?
(American Academy of Family Physicians)
This section from Occupational Respiratory Disease of tells you how to avoid developing lung diseases from work related conditions. Scroll towards the bottom to find the article.
How to Quit: Useful Resources to Quit Smoking
(Centers for Disease Control)
This site provides links to several other sites that offer practical suggestions for smoking cessation.
Preventing COPD
(American Lung Association)
This site gives you information about how to avoid developing COPD.
Tobacco Prevention & Control
(South Carolina Department of Health and Environment Control (SCDHEC))
The SC Division of Risk Reduction & Health Promotion is responsible for the Tobacco Control Program. This program works with local coalitions and other partners to eliminate exposure to tobacco smoke, promote quitting, and to prevent youth from smoking.
Phone: 803-545-4460

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Written by: Lillian Trettin, Ph.D.
Reviewed by: Jeffrey G. Schultze, M.D.
Last Modified: Thursday October 31, 2019 10:24 AM