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

  • If you smoke, quit.

    • Join a stop-smoking program. There are even telephone, text message, and Internet programs.

    • Ask your healthcare provider about medicines or other methods to help you quit.

    • Ask family members to quit smoking as well.

    • Don’t allow smoking in your home, in your car, 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 provider about a yearly flu shot and pneumonia vaccines.

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

    • To stay healthy, exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet, and get enough sleep. You should:

      • Try to exercise at least 30 minutes on most days. Ask your healthcare provider about a pulmonary rehabilitation (rehab) program. Pulmonary rehab helps improve muscle strength, ability to exercise and do daily tasks. 

      • Healthy eating means a lot of fruit and vegetables, 100% whole grain products, lean meats and fish, and low-fat dairy products, like yogurt and cheeses.

      • Most people need 8 hours of sleep every night.

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

  • If you use oxygen, make sure you use it correctly. That means the amount your use and the length of time you use it.

  • Try to stay away from those things that may affect your breathing, such as cold weather, high humidity, smoke, air pollution, dust, and allergens.

  • Unless your provider has told you otherwise, drink at least 8 glasses of fluid every day to keep mucus thin. Ask about other things that can help.

  • Ask your healthcare provider to show you pursed-lip breathing to help decrease shortness of breath.

Follow-up care

Make all follow-up appointments as directed by our staff.

 When to call your healthcare provider

Call your provider 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 medicines

  • An irregular heartbeat or a feeling that your heart is beating very fast

  • Swollen ankles

  • Trouble doing your usual activities


Contact Us for a Free
Consultation & Care Assessment

Let's Get Started

Contact Us for a Free Consultation
and Care Assessment

Greenwich, CT:


Westchester, NY:


235 Glenville Road 3rd Floor,
Greenwich, Connecticut 06831

Learning Center

Medication Library

Find medication information to help educate patients, families and caregivers.

Diseases & Conditions Library

Find detailed information on a wide range of health conditions, illnesses, and treatments.

Aging Wellness Center

Find helpful articles to make the most out of your golden years.

Resource Links

Find links to helpful aging resources around the internet


Find the latest information and announcements from Sterling Care.