You can't prevent alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency because the condition is inherited (passed from parents to children through genes).
If you inherit two faulty AAT genes, you'll have AAT deficiency. Even so, you may never develop one of the diseases related to the condition.
You can take steps to prevent or delay lung diseases related to AAT deficiency. One important step is to quit smoking. If you don't smoke, don't start.
Talk with your doctor about programs and products that can help you quit smoking. If you have trouble quitting smoking on your own, consider joining a support group. Many hospitals, workplaces, and community groups offer classes to help people quit smoking.
For more information about how to quit smoking, go to the Health Topics Smoking and Your Heart article and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's "Your Guide to a Healthy Heart." Although these resources focus on heart health, they include basic information about how to quit smoking.
Also, try to avoid secondhand smoke and places with dust, fumes, or other toxic substances that you may inhale.
Check your living and working spaces for things that may irritate your lungs. Examples include flower and tree pollen, ash, allergens, air pollution, wood burning stoves, paint fumes, and fumes from cleaning products and other household items.
If you have a lung disease related to AAT deficiency, ask your doctor whether you might benefit from augmentation therapy. This is a treatment in which you receive infusions of AAT protein.
Augmentation therapy raises the level of AAT protein in your blood and lungs. (For more information, go to "How Is Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency Treated?")
The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.