Emphysema is a lung condition that specifically affects the structural integrity of the cell walls of the respiratory tract. It is one of the primary indicators that verify the presence of chronic obstructive respiratory disease (COPD).
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive lung disease that is not curable. It is also known as emphysema or chronic bronchitis.
Physiotherapy is critical in treating and managing patients with chronic non-inflammatory respiratory diseases, particularly chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) such as emphysema.
What is emphysema?
Emphysema is a lung disease in which tiny air sacs in the lungs, known as alveoli, fill with air. As more air accumulates in these sacs, they expand and may break, become damaged and form scar tissue. The patient’s breathing becomes increasingly difficult.
The abnormal and permanent dilation of the airways in the upper respiratory tracts is the hallmark of emphysema.
This outcome interferes with normal ciliary function and smooth muscle contraction, which are required for adequate lung secretion clearance. Emphysema causes inflammation, which causes additional mucus production in the lungs, resulting in excessive mucus retention. Unfortunately, this creates ideal conditions for new infections to gain traction.
Common causes of emphysema
Emphysema is most commonly seen in people over 40 and is caused by cigarette smoking.
A small percentage of people with emphysema are due to other risk factors, though not smoking.
Exposure to second-hand smoke, outdoor air pollution, occupational specks of dust and chemicals, fumes from burning fuels, and a genetic predisposition are all risk factors for developing emphysema.
Exposure to these agents causes inflammation and lung damage. Emphysema is becoming more common due to increased smoking rates worldwide, early detection, and an ageing population.
Common symptoms of emphysema
Emphysema impairs breathing, notably the expulsion of air from the lungs and the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide inside the lungs.
Other issues caused by the disease include changes in breathing mechanics, breathlessness, decreased heart function, skeletal muscle problems, and decreased overall fitness.
Breathlessness is generally the first symptom people experience with exertion, followed by fatigue, chronic cough and sometimes phlegm production as the disease progresses.
Exercise benefits for emphysema
Regular exercise has numerous advantages, namely:
- Improves your circulation and helps your body use oxygen more effectively.
- Improves your emphysema symptoms.
- Increases your energy levels so you can do more activities without getting tired or out of breath.
- Improves the health of your heart and cardiovascular system.
- Increases your endurance.
- Reduces your blood pressure.
- Improves your muscle tone and strength, as well as your balance and joint flexibility.
- Bones should be strengthened.
- Helps you lose body fat and achieve a healthy weight.
- Assists in reducing stress, tension, anxiety, and depression.
- Improves your self-image and self-esteem; makes you look and feel fit.
- Improves your sleep.
- Make you feel more at ease and refreshed.
Physiotherapy treatment for emphysema
Emphysema patients can benefit from the expertise of our respiratory physiotherapists. We can use a variety of treatment approaches and advice to manage your symptoms and keep you as comfortable as possible.
We can also advise how to modify activities to make daily life easier. Along with advice on appropriate self-management strategies for you and your family to maximise your physical function between physiotherapy sessions.
Our Home Physio Melbourne physiotherapists will provide specialised treatment for your emphysema. Your treatment may include the following, depending on the severity and duration of your condition:
1. Secretion clearance
- Techniques for coughing effectively.
- Sitting and lying postural drainage.
- Manual assistance, such as percussion, vibrations, and shaking.
2. Breathing technique retraining
- Controlling the rate of respiration.
- Breathing through the diaphragm.
- Managing and reducing breath volume.
- Breathing exercises for relaxation.
3. Education and guidance
- Cause and progression of the illness.
- Environmental and allergen-related effects.
- Medication management.
- Recognising possible Asthmatic episodes.
4. Oxygen treatment
- In advanced cases, oxygen therapy is used.
5. Pulmonary rehabilitation classes
- Boost your sense of control.
- Reduce the severity of your shortness of breath.
- Enhance your motivation and mood.
- Increase your muscle strength, function, and exercise endurance.
You will have a customised treatment session. Each appointment will be geared towards getting you back to your regular activities and interests. It is important to note that the respiratory physiotherapy we use should be closely integrated with the management of the client’s dietary, medical, and counselling needs by other healthcare professionals.
Final thoughts on physiotherapy for emphysema
Emphysema is associated with chronic airway obstruction and inflammation. The permanent dilation of the airways, combined with cell wall damage, is a cumulative process. As a result, mucus production and retention increase, functional lung surface decreases, and the risk of repeat infections increases.
Although emphysema is treatable, unfortunately, there is no cure. Appropriate management has been shown to alleviate symptoms, improve quality of life, and help people avoid hospitalisation.
Book an appointment with us today! Our team of experts will lead you down the best treatment path for emphysema based on a comprehensive assessment.