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Discharge Instructions for Emphysema

You have been diagnosed with emphysema. This is a lung disease that limits the flow of air in and out of your lungs, making breathing harder. Emphysema is most often caused by heavy, long-time cigarette smoking.

Home Care

  • Break the smoking habit.

    • Enroll in a stop-smoking program to increase your chances of success.

    • Ask your doctor about medications or other methods to help you quit.

    • Ask family members to quit smoking as well.

    • Don’t allow smoking in your home or around you, especially if oxygen is in use.

  • Protect yourself from infection.

    • Wash your hands often. Keep your hands away from your face. Most germs are spread from your hands to your mouth.

    • Ask your doctor about a yearly flu shot and a pneumonia vaccination.

    • Avoid crowds, especially in the winter, when more people have colds and flu.

    • Exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet, and get enough sleep.

  • Take your medications exactly as directed. Don’t skip doses.

  • Avoid elements that may affect your breathing, such as cold weather, high humidity, smoke, air pollution, dust, and allergens.

  • Unless directed otherwise, drink at least 8 glasses of fluid every day to keep mucus thin.

  • Keep your lungs clear of extra mucus, which can trap germs. Ask your health care provider about learning postural drainage and percussion. These techniques can help you cough up extra mucus.

  • Learn pursed-lip and patterned breathing to help decrease shortness of breath.

  • Be as physically active as possible.

  • If directed by your health care provider, use oxygen at the dose and frequency prescribed.


Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.


When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Shortness of breath, wheezing, or coughing, especially if you have trouble catching your breath or talking

  • Increased mucus; yellow, green, bloody, or smelly mucus

  • Fever or chills

  • Tightness in your chest that does not go away with your normal medications

  • An irregular heartbeat

  • Swollen ankles

  • Trouble doing your usual activities


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