Column logo

Now that I have been getting regular infusions to help with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) for over 4 months, I have discovered a specific benefit lately. It may be debatable, but I think my wounds heal faster now that I am on augmentation therapy.

Normally when I think of getting an infusion I relate it to preserving lung health, as do most people, I assume. There is speculation about what benefits augmentation brings, but I feel confident this is one thing that is getting better than it was before.

I get all kinds of scratches and cuts from work because I work with a lot of paper. I also get a lot of pokes from the infusions themselves. So I get my fair share of wounds on a regular basis.


Continue Reading

For years I have noticed that any wounds I got took a very long time to heal. If I got a shot or immunization, I could feel it months later. 

When I asked medical professionals why my body took so long to heal, I would often get the response that I might have a vitamin C or folate deficiency. So, I tried to get as much of that as I could. I thought maybe I wasn’t getting enough sleep. I took measures to get more restful sleep. Still, none of what I tried seemed to have any effect on my body.

More than once I have noticed that on the mornings after I received therapy, the marks on my hands had shrunk by about 50%. At first, I attributed it to how much rest I had the night before.  Then I realized it was happening around the same time as the therapy. I have heard that the alpha-1 protein that I receive can have healing effects on patients, I just never thought to associate the two.

It could be as a result of using an asthma inhaler, I supposed. I have heard from my nurse that chronic use of the inhaler can have an unwanted effect on the blood vessels. However, such well-timed changes in wound healing with the infusions seem to me to be more than a coincidence, given how much of a difference I have seen.

Read more about therapies for AATD

One could also argue that I have less blood flowing to my hands and therefore not as many nutrients. True, the veins in my hands are substantially smaller than most others. My nurse could tell you that. Even she noticed that I had marks that have been there far too long. She is very good at recognizing when things are not right, which is, I guess, probably why she is such a good nurse.

It always seems to speed up the healing for a few days and then after a while it just stops, when I am not far away from my next infusion. I also think infusions have a good effect on me in general, it seems to alleviate the chest pain I used to feel most of the time.

There are so many advantages to augmentation therapy, such as lung preservation or slowing of lung function decline. Those are very good things, just maybe not the only things going on.

When a substance that is designed to keep inflammation down in the body is not found in the appropriate amounts, like in the situation with AATD, there are going to be some logical consequences. If healing is a non-inflammatory process, does it not make sense that someone with AATD needs the antitrypsin to create the right environment for healing?

This therapy has done wonders for me, though it does not always have the same effect on everyone. They say nothing in respiratory disease is ever straightforward.

I wonder if maybe the deficiency was caught and treated when a person is younger, there is a good chance it could make a bigger difference than it would if it was caught later on. I know of a few younger people with great responses to the therapy.

Of course, diabetes could explain poor wound healing. I have been tested for it many times and my test results are always pretty normal. And I’m glad. I would rather have fewer medical problems, not more.

There is a lot my doctor and I don’t know, and some things we disagree on. But we are a team and that’s how I got to where I am. Honesty and ownership really help me and my doctor out.