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Uncover how to manage Alpha‑1

What are my options?

If you don’t make enough Alpha‑1 antitrypsin protein, your lungs may be more vulnerable to things like seasonal sicknesses and irritants, including cigarette smoke, allergens, and air pollution. Fortunately, there are options to help you manage your condition and associated symptoms, including lifestyle changes you can make.

What are my options for managing Alpha‑1?

There are several things you and your doctor can do to manage Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (Alpha-1, for short). Your management options may vary depending on the type and severity of lung disease and associated symptoms. Make sure to work closely with your doctor to explore what type of management plan makes the most sense for your specific needs.

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One or more of the following types of doctors might be a part of your Alpha‑1 healthcare team*:

  • Pulmonologist (specializes in diagnosing and treating lung diseases)
  • Primary care physician (may also be called a family physician)
  • Allergist/immunologist (specializes in allergies and/or health issues caused by immune system problems)
  • Gastroenterologist/hepatologist (specializes in liver disorders as well as the pancreas and gallbladder)

*These are just some examples of the type of doctors who could help you manage Alpha‑1, but there may be others.


Medications Environmental & lifestyle changes Illness prevention Oxygen therapy
Group 2 Medications Oxygen therapy Illness prevention Environmental & lifestyle changes

There are options out there to help you
manage your condition.

Julie, a real Alpha-1 patient, sitting outside by the fire with her husband.
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Environmental & lifestyle changes

Avoid exposure to dust and fumes.

Quit smoking, vaping, and stay away from secondhand smoke.

Get regular exercise and do breathing exercises.

Exercise alone won’t reverse lung disease, but it can help with how you feel, breathe, and function. Even doing light exercise like going for a walk or taking a gentle yoga class can go a long way. Make sure to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program or activity.

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Inhaled medications (for example, fast-acting or rescue inhalers) can help open the airways in the lungs.

Antibiotics may be needed when lung infections occur.

Augmentation therapy works over time to help increase the levels of Alpha-1 antitrypsin proteins in your body.

It’s something your doctor may prescribe if you have severe Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency with emphysema.

This type of therapy is made from human plasma and is given through an infusion that goes into a vein (called intravenous).

You may be able to get your infusions at an infusion center, a doctor’s office, or at your own home. The long-term effects of Alpha-1 antitrypsin replacement and maintenance therapy have not been studied.

Learn more about two augmentation therapy options here & here.

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Oxygen therapy

Receiving extra oxygen through a mask or tube can help if your oxygen levels get too low.

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Illness prevention

Preventative strategies are recommended to help protect you from developing illnesses that affect the lungs. These strategies involve things like maintaining healthy hygiene and staying current on vaccinations, including:

  • Annual flu shot
  • Pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccination for older adults
  • COVID-19 vaccination
  • Washing your hands often
  • Using alcohol-based hand sanitizer to kill germs

The Alpha‑1 Foundation and COPD Foundation both offer a variety of educational materials, including information on management options, making lifestyle changes and living well with lung disease.

Where else can I find resources and support for Alpha‑1?

If you have Alpha‑1, it's important to remember you're not alone. Additional information and support are at your fingertips.

Discover Alpha‑1 resources
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Reviewed by Takeda MARCH 2022.