People with symptoms of emphysema often have symptoms that suddenly get worse. When this happens, you have a much harder time catching your breath. You may also have chest tightness, more coughing, change in your sputum, and a fever.
It is important to call your doctor if you have any of these worsening emphysema symptoms.
Your doctor will look at things that might be causing these emphysema symptoms to suddenly worsen. Sometimes the symptoms are caused by a lung infection. Your doctor may want you to take an antibiotic medication that helps fight off the infection.
Your doctor may also recommend additional medications to help with your breathing. These medications include bronchodilators and glucocorticosteroids.
Your doctor may recommend that you spend time in the hospital if:
- You have a lot of difficulty catching your breath
- You have a hard time talking
- Your lips or fingernails turn blue or gray
- You are not mentally alert
- Your heartbeat is very fast.
Home treatment of worsening symptoms doesn't help.
Emphysema is a disease that slowly worsens over time, especially if you continue to smoke. If you have emphysema, you are more likely to have lung infections, which can be fatal. If the lungs are severely damaged, the heart may be affected. A person with emphysema dies when the lungs and heart are unable to function and get oxygen to the body's organs and tissues or when a complication, such as a severe infection, occurs. Treatment for emphysema may help prevent complications, prolong life, and improve a person's quality of life.