· The early stages of emphysema can be broken down into two categories. the two categories are related to the emphysema symptoms. The first category is referred to as the "at risk of developing" category. This category is for people who only show very minor symptoms. This might be a slight cough that can be accompanied by built up mucus and phlegm. The second category is considered to be mild emphysema. In that case, an individual can experience similar symptoms as the people who are in the "at risk category"; however, the symptoms will begin to occur more often as the stages of emphysema progress. The two categories that are associated with the early stages of emphysema are not associated with any symptoms that indicate a severe difficulty with breathing.
· A person who is in the high risk category for emphysema should see a doctor as early as possible. People who smoke are in the highest risk group for developing emphysema. If it is caught in the early emphysema stages, then a person might be able to still have a long life expectancy, especially if they quit smoking immediately. The earliest stages of emphysema are diagnosed with a test called a spirometry test. A spirometry test is one that is conducted by deep breathing exercises. This allows the doctor to see how much air is able to flow in and out of the lungs. People in the earlier emphysema stages will have more air circulating than those in the later stages of emphysema.
· In the early stages of emphysema, expectorants might be used in order to loosen the mucus that can build up, allowing for easier breathing. In addition, a bronchodilator can assist with increasing lung function. It can also help stop mucus from becoming trapped, which is what leads to severe coughing. If an individual develops an upper respiratory infection in the early emphysema stages, a doctor will probably prescribe antibiotics to slow or stop any further complications. An individual might be required to perform deep breathing exercises in the early stages of emphysema. These exercises can help to loosen mucus, along with helping the lungs to work better. Later emphysema stages are more problematic. An individual may find that they need an oxygen tank to help them breathe. At this point, the prognosis may not be good; most people in the later stages of emphysema do not have a high life expectancy.
The outcome of an individuals case of emphysema will usually depend on the stages of emphysema. People in the earlier stages might be able to live a normal life, but that will be difficult if not impossible in the later emphysema stages.