Exposure to secondhand smoke or long-term tobacco use can cause emphysema. It is part of a group of lung diseases.
“If you have emphysema, you might feel like you can’t breathe. Other symptoms include coughing up phlegm and wheezing.”
This article will explain when antibiotics are prescribed for emphysema and what other types of treatments are used.
Your lungs are made up of millions of microscopic air sacs called alveoli. With emphysema, the alveoli (tiny air sacs in your lungs) become weak and rupture. This makes your lungs less efficient.
As a result of the ruptured alveoli, less oxygen reaches your bloodstream when you inhale. When you breathe out, air can become trapped in your lungs, making it harder for new air to get into your lungs.
Emphysema develops after years of lung damage, usually from smoking or being exposed to secondhand smoke. Less common causes of emphysema include regularly inhaling substances, such as:
- polluted air
- There are fumes.
- There is dust.
According to the American Lung Association, more than 3 million people have received a diagnosis of emphysema in the United States. Because of emphysema’s strong link to smoking, it’s considered to be one of the most preventable respiratory illnesses.
There are a variety of treatment options for emphysema, which can be treated to help manage symptoms and prevent lung damage. In severe cases, surgery and medication are included.
Antibiotics are not specifically used to treat emphysema. They are prescribed to treat flare-ups or exacerbations associated with emphysema and COPD.
During a COPD exacerbation, symptoms such as shortness of breath and phlegm production suddenly get worse. In some cases, the cause is a bacterial infection in the lungs, such as pneumonia or bronchitis.
The goal of antibiotic treatment is to eliminate the infections. The severity of the exacerbation affects the type of antibiotic and route of administration.
According to treatment guidelines from the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD), mild to moderate exacerbations can be treated with oral antibiotics, including:
IV antibiotics are used to treat exacerbations.
- The drug piperacillin-tazobactam.
Antibiotics are only helpful if you have a bacterial infection. Your doctor will assess your symptoms and conduct tests to determine whether a bacterial infection is causing your exacerbation.
Other common treatments for emphysema can help alleviate your symptoms, while also maintaining your lung health and quality of life.
Treatments may include:
- Bronchodilators. Inhalers help relax the muscles in the respiratory passages, allowing more air to enter and exit your lungs.
- Corticosteroids. Corticosteroids target and relieve inflammation and irritation in the airways.
- Pulmonary rehabilitation. Pulmonary rehabilitation includes education, breathing exercises, and counseling to help you maintain your quality of life.
- Vaccines. Flu and pneumonia vaccines can help prevent exacerbations associated with COPD and emphysema.
- Lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes, such as smoking cessation, moderate exercise, and a nutritious diet may help ease emphysema symptoms.
- Oxygen therapy. Portable oxygen therapy devices deliver concentrated oxygen to your lungs, helping to reduce shortness of breath.
- Surgery. Surgical treatments, usually a last resort in severe cases of emphysema, include procedures like lung volume reduction surgery and a lung transplant.
The outlook for emphysema depends on a number of factors, such as when you receive the diagnosis. With early treatment, most people can manage their symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.
The outlook for emphysema also depends on the steps you’re willing to take. If you smoke, quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do to prevent further lung damage.
If you experience a flare-up of emphysema symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. When a bacterial infection is causing an exacerbation, early treatment with antibiotics can make a difference.
Antibiotics are used to treat symptoms associated with COPD. They are prescribed to treat respiratory infections. If you have emphysema, these infections are more likely to develop.
bronchodilators and corticosteroids are some of the medications for emphysema. Your doctor might suggest lifestyle changes to improve your lung health.
If you have emphysema, you should talk to your doctor about how you can reduce your risk of respiratory infections.