“What is the difference between COPD and Emphysema” is a question many have found themselves asking. COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is an umbrella term for a group of progressive lung diseases that result in a major compromise of the respiratory system. These diseases manifest symptoms that indicate difficulty in breathing. Is there truly any clear difference between COPD and Emphysema? Or do these terms mean the same thing?

What is Emphysema? Are Emphysema and COPD the same?

Emphysema is a medical condition characterized by damage to the alveoli and lung tissue, bronchial tube obstruction, and consequent respiratory distress symptoms. It belongs to a group of diseases that are generally referred to as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases. The other two conditions that make up this group are; Chronic bronchitis and Refractory asthma. Emphysema is simply a type of COPD.

What do we know to be the causes of Emphysema?

The causes of Emphysema include smoking (this includes cigarettes, pipes, and other forms of tobacco products), exposure to fumes from burning fuels, and respiratory infections. The most common cause of emphysema is smoking. The condition occurs majorly as a result of damage to lung tissue. Inhaling tobacco and other toxic fumes cause inflammation and severe damage to the epithelial lining of the bronchial tubes and lung alveoli. This damage and inflammation can trigger the collapse of airways, increased airway secretions, and damage to the cilia responsible for clearing these secretions. The respiratory system is therefore compromised and the patient experiences difficulty in breathing that progressively worsens over time.

What are some of the signs and symptoms of emphysema you might expect?

The signs and symptoms of emphysema include; shortness of breath, chronic cough, wheezing, fatigue, increased mucus production, and chest tightness. The earliest signs the patient may notice are; shortness of breath that develops and worsens gradually and fatigue.

What are other causes of COPD?

These refer to the causes of emphysema, refractory asthma, and chronic bronchitis. These three conditions are Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases and they can be caused by smoking (especially long-term), being exposed to certain toxic fumes, and respiratory infections. Some genetic traits can also put you at risk of COPD. COPD is a condition that develops over a long period. Symptoms often delay their appearance until the disease worsens.

Does COPD have a cure for now?

Emphysema and other types of COPD do not have a definitive cure yet. However, different treatments can help to relieve symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease. Some of these treatments include; the use of inhaled corticosteroids, antibiotics, bronchodilators, oxygen therapy, lifestyle modifications with special emphasis on quitting smoking, and so on.

Can Stem Cell therapy be effective in treating COPD?

There have been quite a number of research attempts to find novel, effective therapies for the management of COPD. Stem cell therapy and Stem cell therapy for pain have been used effectively in the management of different medical conditions. The current treatment options for COPD offer temporary relief of symptoms and help to reduce the severity and frequency of COPD symptoms.

Stem cells promise a possible breakthrough in the management of COPD. They have been used with success to regenerate lung parenchyma and airway structures. The use of stem cell therapy in the management of COPD aims to leverage their differentiation self-renewing potential to restore lung function and, in the process, improve the quality of life in people living with COPD.

Stem cells are obtained from newborn umbilical cord stem cells and can differentiate into different kinds of cells which can replace or repair damaged tissues. In a report by Autologous Stem Cell therapy, more than 82% of patients that received stem cell therapy for COPD reported significant improvements. Several clinical trials report that most patients who attempted stem cell therapy request for continuation of the therapy.

Has the use of stem cell therapy been approved for COPD?

The Food and Drug Administration has not approved stem cell therapy for the management of COPD.  Clinical trials are still ongoing and there is still little evidence to prove that the use of stem cell therapy can cure COPD and is without long-term risks. The American Lung Association raises concerns about the cost of the therapy and its potential to cause harm to patients, and the lack of adequate evidence to support its efficiency.

What are the benefits of Stem cell therapy?

Stem cell therapy might just be the future of modern medicine. Stem cell testimonials from patients that have gone through the procedures changed the quality of their lives. It has been used successfully in the management of several conditions by providing a minimally invasive, safe, and non-surgical alternative to conventional therapies for pain management, and rejuvenation of damaged nerves, muscles, and body tissue. Stem cell therapy provides faster healing, and improved functionality, and reduces the likelihood of surgical therapy while ensuring fewer adverse effects and better quality of life for patients.

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