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Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency Treatment

How do you know if you have Alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency? AATD can often mimic the symptoms of other common respiratory ailments such as asthma. Click here for a list of Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency symptoms. You can also request a free AATD deficiency test kit here.

Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency Treatment Options

Once diagnosed with Alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency, you will want to explore treatment options. While there is no cure, there are a few treatment options available.  

Medication

There are several AATD medications you can take to help treat this condition and keep your lungs as healthy as possible. Bronchodilators are often used to help treat AATD. A bronchodilator is medication that helps widen and relax your airways. Since Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency affects your lungs, this medication can often bring great relief!

In addition to bronchodilators, treating upper respiratory infections with antibiotics is important. With AATD, your lungs are already susceptible to damage, therefore taking quick-acting antibiotics to fight off infection is essential to helping prevent further lung damage.

Finally, sticking to a vaccination schedule is a good idea for Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency patients. Getting an annual flu shot is imperative to protecting the already-sensitive lungs of AATD sufferers. 

Augmentation Therapy

AATD augmentation therapy is also called Alpha-1 replacement therapy. Patients receive weekly IV infusions of AAT protein from the blood plasma of a healthy donor. These AAT infusions increase the Alpha-1 levels circulating in the lungs and blood. These infusions are lifelong. The immediate goal of beginning augmentation therapy is to increase the level of Alpha-1 protein in the lungs. Long-term goals include slowing the progression of AATD and reducing symptoms. It’s important to note that AATD augmentation therapy isn’t considered a cure. This therapy also cannot restore lung function that has been lost. 

There are currently four Alpha-1 antitrypsin therapy products used in treatment in the U.S.: Prolastin-C® and Prolastin-C Liquid® from Grifols, Aralast NP™ from Takeda, Zemaira® from CSL Behring and Glassia® from Kamada Ltd. These medications have been approved by the FDA. 

Individuals who benefit from AAT augmentation include people with emphysema and severe Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. (“Severe” Alpha-1 is defined as an individual with two abnormal Alpha-1 genes.) The most dramatic improvements from augmentation therapy have been noted in people whose lung function falls in the middle range of severity. 

Physicians recommend that any patient preparing to start Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency augmentation therapy should get vaccinated against both Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B—this reduces the risk of injury to the liver.

Natural Treatment

There are no proven natural treatments for Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency—however, there are a few things that AATD patients can do that don’t include medication or augmentation therapy to help further progress the effects that AATD has on the lungs. If you smoke and suffer from AATD, quitting smoking is essential; smoking can further damage your lungs! If you continue to smoke, it’s likely your Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency treatments won’t be as effective as they otherwise could be.

Getting plenty of rest and exercise are both natural ways to strengthen your lungs and keep them healthy. Cardiovascular exercise in particular is recommended since it strengthens your lungs, helping them work more efficiently.

Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency Treatment Guidelines

For diagnosing and treating AATD, as well as Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency treatment guidelines, read the Clinical Practice Guidelines – The Diagnosis and Management of Alpha-1   Antitrypsin Deficiency in the Adult

Dr. Michael Czarnecki: Specialist for Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency

Dr. Michael Czarnecki—”The Lung Doc”—is a board-certified pulmonary physician by the American Board of Internal Medicine. He is the only AATD specialist in the greater Chattanooga area. Dr. Mike specializes in treating Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, including the use of AATD replacement therapy. Whether you suspect you have AATD or require AATD treatment, Dr. Mike can help. To book an appointment with Dr. Mike, call 423-710-3864 or request an appointment online.