Emphysema



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What Is Emphysema

Emphysema is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, affecting about 3.5 million people in the United States.  People with this condition have air sacs in their lungs that become damaged or stretched, commonly resulting in coughing or obstructed breathing.  Most cases of Emphysema are caused by smoking cigarettes, but there are other ways to develop the condition.  Affecting the physical structure of the lungs, Emphysema causes air sacs in the lungs to lose strength and result in chronic lung damage.  It is common for most people with Emphysema to have chronic bronchitis, both of which make up chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Signs Of Emphysema

People can have Emphysema for years and not experience or notice signs or symptoms.  The primary symptom is shortness of breath, but this is a gradual development.  Because of the inability to breathe properly, many people with Emphysema have to avoid daily tasks and they only get medical attention when it interferes with everyday life.  Other symptoms can include:

  • Not mentally alert
  • Lips or fingernails turn blue or gray (without exertion) 
  • Inability to climb stairs (due to shortness of breath)
What Causes Emphysema

The primary cause of Emphysema is long-term exposure to environmental pollutants and airborne toxins.  Smoking cigarettes accounts for about 90% of all Emphysema cases because roughly 7,000 chemicals are released by burning cigarettes.  These chemicals weaken your lungs and damage the air sacs, which accelerates the progression of the disease and increases inflammation that reduces lung strength.  Other causes can include:

  • Marijuana smoke
  • Air pollution
  • Chemical fumes and dust
  • Workplace hazards (exposure to vapors or chemicals)
  • Age (roughly 90% of Emphysema patients are over the age of 45)

Dherbs Approach...adjusting your diet is always key!

Natural Remedies
  • Oxygen therapy is probably the most common conventional treatment for Emphysema.  This treatment provides the efficient delivery of oxygen to the lungs, and it can be administered round the clock or during the night.  Research has indicated that oxygen supplementation can improve the quality of life and the overall function of the respiratory system.
  • If you currently smoke cigarettes, quit smoking immediately.  This is the most important step to avoid further lung damage.  When it comes to quitting smoking, you can try to join an accountability group with others who have the goal of quitting.  You can also try acupuncture to help quit cigarettes. 
  • According to new research, scientists say that Emphysema patients have low levels of vitamin D.  Recent studies have linked vitamin D deficiency to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease because vitamin D plays a role in boosting lung health.  Adults should aim to get 600 IUs of vitamin D each day, with about 15-30 minutes of sunlight satisfying this requirement.  You can also find vitamin D in a variety of mushrooms. 
  • As we just mentioned, people with Emphysema are commonly deficient in vitamin D, in addition to other nutrients.  Emphysema places a bigger demand on energy levels because the lungs are not functioning optimally.  This is why it is beneficial to consume a balanced, healthy diet that naturally boosts energy levels.  It is recommended to focus on whole plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains.  You should also eat smaller meals more frequently and avoid sugars and processed foods, alcohol, dairy products, and caffeine.
  • Focus on consuming foods that are rich in antioxidants, which help protect cells from damaging free radicals.  Because oxidation occurs in living tissues, consuming foods that are rich in oxidants can increase oxidative damage.  Increasing the consumption of antioxidants helps to fight oxidative stress, which has been linked to inflamed airways in the lungs.  Antioxidant-rich foods can include apples, blueberries, plums, kidney beans, artichokes, cherries, pecans, ginger, carrots, olive oil, strawberries, cranberries, and green tea. 
Things you should eat
  • Berries (cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, & strawberries)
  • Cherries
  • Plums
  • Apples 
  • Ginger
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Raw pecans
  • Carrots
  • Beans (kidney beans, pinto beans, & black beans)
  • Mushrooms (Portobello and maitake)
  • Green tea
  • Oregano
  • Turmeric