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Emphysema Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

What Is Emphysema?

Emphysema, the medical term is a chronic respiratory disease. Our lungs have countless of tiny air sacs called alveoli. In emphysema, these air sacs either rupture or stretch out. Later, these stretched air sacs get destroyed or damaged, disabling the natural elasticity of your lungs. Such causes difficulty for the lungs to get empty. The disease progresses gradually and gets worse in due course, as it progresses, your lungs tend to lose the power to take in oxygen and in return, release carbon dioxide. Such causes the patient to experience breathing difficulties. Patient feels as if he is not getting sufficient air to breathe- short of breath.
In addition to this, emphysema is a type of COPD- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Excessive cigarette smoking acts to trigger emphysema.

What Are The Symptoms Of Emphysema?

Even though, its symptoms tend to vary from patient to patient, however breathing difficulty is a common sign nearly all patients experience. Initially, a person may become short of breath while performing strenuous activities, for example playing sports of climbing stairs. Slowly, the problem will interfere with your day to day activities for example walking, writing or eating. Ultimately, the patient gets short of breath for most of the day. He or she will even complain breathing difficulties while sleeping or resting. Few other symptoms of emphysema include:

  •  Weight loss.
  •  Morning headache.
  •  Coughing.
  •  Wheezing.
  •  Difficulty to sleep and concentrate.
  •  Swell ankles.
  •  Fatigue.
  •  Feeling of tightness in your chest.

What Causes Emphysema?

The major cause known for causing emphysema is cigarette smoking. How smoking actually damages the lining of the air sac present in our lungs is a mystery. Though, researchers believe that cigarette smokers are almost six times more expected to experience emphysema as compared to nonsmokers.
Another known cause is the deficiency of alpha-1 antitrypsin. It is a natural protein that circulates in our blood. It is responsible for preventing the white blood cells from destroying the healthy tissues.

What Is The Prognosis Of Emphysema?

Fortunately, the outcome is good particularly for the people with less damage caused to their lungs.

What Are The Potential Complications Of Emphysema?

Few complications emphysema can lead in future include:

  •  Pulmonary hypertension.
  •  Recurrent respiratory infections.
  •  Erythrocytosis.
  •  Cor pulmonale.
  •  Death.

How Is Emphysema Diagnosed?

The doctor will perform a thorough physical examination, wherein he or she will either notice decreased sounds of breaths or wheezing. He may suggest the following tests in order to confirm its diagnosis:

  •  Chest X-ray.
  •  Pulmonary function tests.
  •  Arterial blood gases.

How Is Emphysema Treated?

In order to treat emphysema effectively, one must quit tobacco smoking, as it is the only way out that can help stop further damage to the lungs after it has initiated. Few treatment options that can help restore normal breathing include:


  •  Medications: corticosteroids, diuretics and bronchodilators. In case of respiratory infections, the doctor can prescribe antibiotics.
  •  Lung transplantation for severe cases.
  •  Low-flow oxygen.
  •  Pulmonary rehabilitation.
  •  Lung reduction surgery.


Just by avoiding cigarette smoking, one can greatly reduce the chances of developing emphysema.


By : Natural Health News

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