For those who use rescue inhalers (i.e. Respimat, ProAir, Ventolin...how often do you use and how does it help you?
Emphysema is a progressive lung disease that is literally breathtaking. It’s the result of damage to the air sacs inside your lung tissue, which makes the gas exchange that’s supposed to occur in the lungs increasingly harder to do. There are over 3 million Americans who have been diagnosed with emphysema, as well as 8 million diagnosed with another form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Left untreated, emphysema can quickly become life-threatening.
Gradual Loss of Breath: The Stages of Emphysema & Life Expectancy
The progression of emphysema is divided into four stages based, largely based on your lung capacity, as measured by how much air your lungs can expel in one second.
In Stage 1, symptoms may barely be felt, and lung capacity may be greater than 80% of normal.
Stage 2 is where most people begin considering a visit to the doctor about a persistent cough, and lung capacity have fallen to between 50-80%.
During Stage 3, lung capacity is down to 30-50%, and significant flare-ups of symptoms may occur bi-annually.
Stage 4 is marked by extremely difficult breathing and frequent hospitalizations and is known as end-stage COPD because a flare-up of symptoms could be fatal.
Because most patients aren’t diagnosed until stage 2 or 3, the prognosis for emphysema is often poor, and the average life expectancy is about five years.
The biggest risk factor for emphysema is a history of tobacco. Exposure to a number of air pollutants like exhaust, second-hand smoke, dust, and fumes may also increase your risk. Family history has also been proven to be a risk factor. If you have relatives who suffered from emphysema, you may be at increased risk of developing the disease, even if you don’t smoke. And as with so many disorders, age is a risk factor; most cases of emphysema showing up in person between the ages of 40 and 60.
Treatment Options for Emphysema
While there is no cure for emphysema, it can be slowed down considerably. The first step is to immediately cease all habits that may be agitating your emphysema, like smoking. Smokers who are diagnosed with emphysema can greatly exceed the 5-year average life expectancy if they quit smoking immediately.
As the disease progresses, what can’t be halted can be made more comfortable with the treatment. Medications can alleviate breathing problems, therapy programs can provide new breathing techniques, oxygen tanks may be used to provide immediate relief, and even some surgical options are available to removed severely damaged tissue.
Just like to tell you that having had a stay in hospital with unusually stressful breathing problems which I have had since 2002 I am so pleased with a change that I was given. By using Ventolin and Saline capsules through a nebuliser I am so pleased that it gives me almost instant relief. The handheld Ventolin was OK but it seldom achieved this despite claims. I think the reason is that the 'old' method hit ones tonsils and stayed there, but the nebuliser delivers it deep into the lungs on a vapor jet. Whatever, it works better by far. Changes are constant and maybe it takes a hospital stay to get the latest advances?
I have suffered from SOB for 17 years now and only recently have been introduced to the magic solution ( for me) to my emphysima problem. It is to use a nebuliser with Ventolin, Ipratropium and a saline solution. The Ipratropium is the new element and it works within minutes to 'open the airways' and releive the stress of being SOB.. It is very effective for me and maybe for you too. But everyone is different - so I mention this in the hope that it may help someone, somewhere. Good luck.
How often formrelievers? For me during my occasional spells of extreme breathlessness (about twice a year) up to 20 times per day. This gives me "the shakes" and I suggested to my GP that it seemed to have lost its effectiveness over 17 years of use. He agreed and prescribed nebulisers. The improvement is remarkable. Relief is achieved within 10 minutes of the session. I take ventolin, ipratropium and a saline solution. Before bed ensures clear airways through the night and that is an enormous advantage. It works for me. I will never be cured, but relief is so important and welcome.
The answer is difficult. It all depends. If your problem is occasional maybe 2 puffs twice a day. In my case it can be up to 20 times per day when I am badly hit with breathlessness. At my stage I have been put on a nebuliser to dispense ventolin, ipratropium and a saline solution after my hand held blue ventolin inhaler became inneffective. They tell me that the nebuliser dispenses 20 times the amount of ventolin that comes from the hand-held device. I get 'the shakes' but it's a price I am willing to pay. Whatever, it seems to have been a better controller for me. But one person's treatment may well be completely different to another's. So I can only give my opinion. Listen carefully to your GP and make sure you follow the rules. I didn't and I nearly paid a high price for my stupidity. But I'm still here at 87! Whoopeeeee. Good luck.