senior man coughing after exerciseAlthough most of us have heard of it, very few understand what emphysema is and how it affects the body.

Emphysema is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which affects 16 million Americans and is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S.

When a person has emphysema, the tiny air sacs of the lungs are destroyed. The damage causes the lungs to work less efficiently, reducing the amount of oxygen that gets into the bloodstream.

Embassy Healthcare offers comprehensive pulmonary and respiratory care for individuals with emphysema and COPD at its communities throughout Ohio.


The number-one cause of emphysema is smoking. Quitting the habit can keep your symptoms from worsening, which often occurs if a person continues smoking. Emphysema can also stem from forms of air pollution such as burning fuel, dust or chemicals.


Because symptoms typically appear gradually, the first signs of emphysema are often noticed during physical exertion. They may include:

  • A tight feeling in the chest
  • Being short of breath
  • Persistent cough producing mucus
  • A wheezing sound when breathing
  • Reduced energy
  • Lips or nail beds turning blue


Although an early diagnosis can help slow the damage from emphysema, many people do not know they have it until it has caused extensive lung damage. Tests that can identify the presence of the disease include:

  • Lung function exams such as a spirometry test
  • CT scans or chest X-ray
  • Blood tests such as a blood gas analysis


Embassy Healthcare’s team of certified or registered respiratory therapists work with residents to provide the specialized care they need, such as vent weaning and trach decannulation.

Our 24/7 units for those with a variety of pulmonary illness offer services including ventilator and trach care, pulmonary hygiene, aerosol treatments, and CPAP/BIPAP care. These services help reduce re-hospitalization rates, allowing for quicker recoveries and promotes improved quality of life.

A variety of medications may be prescribed for those with emphysema, including:

  • Antibiotics can treat lung conditions such as pneumonia and bronchitis
  • Steroids (oral or inhaled) may prevent emphysema from worsening
  • Bronchodilators are inhaled medications to improve shortness of breath and coughing

To learn more about Embassy Healthcare’s pulmonary and respiratory care program, call 888-975-1379 or schedule a tour of our facilities.