What is Alpha-1 Lung Disease?

Understanding Alpha-1

Alpha-1 Lung Disease is a relatively common genetic disorder. Typically, those with the disorder begin to experience symptoms between the age of 20 and 50.

People with Alpha-1 Lung Disease lack a protein that protects their lung tissue from attack by an enzyme in their blood. This causes lung damage and difficulty breathing. The main current treatment replaces patients’ protective protein, but requires weekly infusions.

Research is underway to explore a new approach: preventing the attack on the healthy tissue in the first place.

Frequently Asked Questions

Testing for Alpha-1 is done through a simple blood test or mouth swab test. It is estimated that only about 5% of people with Alpha-1 Lung Disease have been diagnosed, and early symptoms are often misdiagnosed.

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Chronic bronchitis, which is cough and sputum (phlegm) production that lasts for a long time
  • Recurring chest colds
  • Reduced exercise tolerance
  • Year-round allergies
  • Bronchiectasis

Two patient advocacy groups, in particular, are great resources for learning more about the disease: Alpha-1 Foundation https://www.alpha1.org/ and Alpha-1 Global http://alpha-1global.org/en/

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