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Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency


Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) is a condition that increases your risk for lung and liver damage. Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) is made by your liver and protects your lungs and liver from infections and inflammation. Your body may not be able to make enough healthy AAT if you were born with abnormal genes that make AAT. If the AAT your liver makes is faulty, it can cause liver inflammation, damage, and may lead to liver failure. You may also develop AATD if tobacco smoke or chemical fumes decrease your AAT levels.



  • Bronchodilators: You may need bronchodilators to help open the air passages in your lungs, and help you breathe more easily.
  • Steroid medicines: Steroids decrease inflammation in your lungs.
  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics fight or prevent a lung infection. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your healthcare provider. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.
  • AAT replacement: This medicine can increase your AAT to normal levels. You may get AAT replacement medicine through an IV, or you may inhale it. This medicine helps maintain your lung function and prevent further damage.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You will need to have blood tests to measure your AAT levels. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Get vaccinated:

Ask your healthcare provider about the following vaccines to help protect your lungs and liver:

  • Influenza: Get a flu vaccine every year as soon as it is available.
  • Pneumonia: You may need to get this vaccine every 5 years.
  • Hepatitis: You may need more than 1 shot to be protected against hepatitis A and B.

Avoid cigarette smoke:

Do not smoke. Avoid areas where others are smoking. Cigarette smoke causes your AAT levels to decrease and may cause further lung damage.

For more information:

  • American Lung Association
    1301 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
    Washington , DC 20004
    Phone: 1- 202 - 785-3355
    Phone: 1- 800 - 548-8252
    Web Address:
  • American Liver Foundation
    39 Broadway Suite 2700
    New York , New York 10006
    Phone: 1- 212 - 668-1000
    Phone: 1- 800 - 465-4837
    Web Address:

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You are losing weight without trying.
  • You feel new lumps under your skin.
  • You have bowel or bladder changes.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have a severe headache that does not go away.
  • You have bloody bowel movements.
  • You vomit or cough up blood.
  • You have chest pain and trouble breathing.

Ā© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotesĀ® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Discharge Care)

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.