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COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

Sister Has Had Emphysema for 22 Years

10/23/2009

Question:

My sister has had emphysema for 22 years and seems to think its ok to continue to smoke she thinks if it hasnt killed her yet then it wont. She has trouble breathing and has for some time and she gets headaches and recently has been battling depression. She dont have insurance and when she goes to the er at hospital they just treat her and release her with out any info about her disease. I am terrified that this disease has spread to other organs. Is that a rational concern?

Answer:

Thank you for visiting NetWellness and for your question. The most important therapy for people with emphysema is to quit smoking. This is because smoking continues to cause damage to the lungs and also causes damage to other organs. This can lead to heart disease, cancer, or a stroke. Smoking cessation and oxygen therapy are the only treatments known to prolong survival in emphysema. People with severe emphysema and depression often benefit from an evaluation by a lung specialist or from pulmonary rehabilitation.

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Response by:

Michael E Ezzie, MD Michael E Ezzie, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University