Treating and Managing Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency

How AAT Deficiency Is Treated

People diagnosed with AAT deficiency before pulmonary symptoms occur usually have better outcomes than those who are diagnosed at later stages and are already experiencing respiratory illness. If you do not have any symptoms, you may be monitored by your healthcare provider and asked to return for regular follow-ups. 

To determine your treatment plan, your healthcare provider will review the results of other testing and the severity of your symptoms. AAT deficiency management and treatment options may include:

  • Augmentation therapy is a long-term treatment that will increase the levels of AAT in your blood by giving you donated AAT. It cannot reverse lung damage that has already occurred, but it may help to slow lung damage.
  • Augmentation therapy generally requires a weekly infusion and is reserved for those individuals with the lowest AAT levels. 
  • Medications may be prescribed to control symptoms of COPD. If needed, antibiotics or inhaled corticosteroids may be recommended to control symptoms of flare-ups, infections or exacerbations.
  • Oxygen therapy may be prescribed to help you get more air into your lungs. Oxygen is transferred from a tank through a tube that fits into the nostrils, or with the help of a mask. 
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation is an exercise program designed to help people with chronic lung conditions like COPD maintain optimal activity levels and breathe better.
  • Some people with advanced lung disease may be referred for a lung transplantation.
  • Quit smoking as soon as possible and avoid secondhand smoke. The American Lung Association offers several smoking cessation programs to give people trying to quit the support they need.
  • Protect yourself from environmental dusts or workplace exposure to toxic substances. 
  • AAT deficiency research is quickly advancing, so clinical trials are available for people living with the disease. To view available clinical trials for people living with AATD, visit

If AAT deficiency affects your liver, you should avoid drinking alcohol. It is important to talk with your healthcare provider about your medications because some medications can cause liver damage.

More information

More information about AAT deficiency is available from the Alpha-1 Foundation, such as a nationwide network of affiliated support groups for alpha-1 patients and families.

Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel.

Page last updated: October 2, 2023

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