Emphysema : Definition, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Types, Stages, Life Expectancy, Pathophysiology, Medications, Complications and Treatment

Emphysema : Definition, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Types, Stages, Life Expectancy, Pathophysiology, Medications, Complications and Treatment
Emphysema : Definition, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Types, Stages, Life Expectancy, Pathophysiology, Medications, Complications and Treatment

Emphysema is a type of lung disease that results in causing shortness of breath. People having emphysema suffer from damage in the air sacs of the lungs. The inner walls of the air sacs get weak and rupture eventually with time forming larger air spaces instead of several small ones. Emphysema decreases the surface area of the lungs and in turn reduces the amount of oxygen that get to your bloodstream. When a person exhales, the damage in alveoli due to emphysema do not let them function properly and starts trapping old air leaving no space for oxygen-rich and fresh air to let in.

Majority of the people with emphysema also suffer from chronic bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis refers to the inflammation of the bronchial tubes carrying air to the lungs which leads to the development of a persistent cough. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are the two conditions that add up to the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Frequent smoking is one of the leading causes of COPD development. Proper treatment might slow down the progression of COPD but it is not possible to reverse the pulmonary damage. Almost 3 million people suffer from emphysema only in the United States.

Alveoli are thin-walled, small, and very fragile air sacs present in clusters at the bottom of the bronchial tubes inside the lungs. There are almost 300 million alveoli present in normal lungs. As a person tries to breathe in air, the alveoli start to stretch thus drawing oxygen in and transporting it towards the blood circulation. The alveoli contract when a person exhales thus letting carbon dioxide out of the body. As emphysema advances, the lung tissues and alveoli suffer from intense damage. The studies reveal that many years of smoking and even second hand smoking can lead to the development of emphysema in a lot of people.

The damage to the alveoli makes it difficult for them to support the bronchial tubes, leading to the collapse of bronchial tubes. As the bronchial tubes collapse, there is occurrence of a blockage in lung tissues causing air to trap inside. The trapping of too much air in the lungs might five some patients appearance of barrel-shaped chest. In addition, less oxygen will be able to transport from the lungs into the bloodstream because there are lesser alveoli left. Moreover, emphysema is most common among men of ages between 50 and 70 years.

The researchers report that once the onset of emphysema begins, it is almost impossible to reverse its damage to the lungs and for this reason it is of immense importance to quit smoking. The air sacs also lose their structural integrity and become floppy. The improper function of the air sacs makes it difficult for the lungs to move oxygen in and let carbon oxide out of the body. The damage to the alveoli is quite slow so the symptoms tend to appear quite slowly. The most frequently occurring complication of emphysema is respiratory tract infection and lung failure. However, proper treatment and quitting cigarette smoking can improve the symptoms of emphysema and avoid the occurrence of life-threatening complications. [1]

1Symptoms Of Emphysema

Symptoms Of Emphysema
Symptoms Of Emphysema

If a person is suffering from emphysema then the muscles in their lungs helping in breathing work harder and tend to tire out more easily or sooner. Feeling short of breath after doing slightest activity is an indication of emphysema. With the progression of disease, a person might feel out of breath even he is sitting or standing still. The symptoms of emphysema tend to show up slowly. A person who smoke and have the condition of emphysema typically show symptoms between ages 45 and 60. As a person gets older, the lungs gradually lose their optimum function without doing cigarette smoking. The people having emphysema when carry on smoking, they lose their lung function even faster. [2]

Each of the type of emphysema has characteristic symptoms and these symptoms primarily associate with emphysema including wheezing and shortness of breath. At the earlier stages, the shortness of breath or dyspnea develops with doing physical activity. As the time passes and the disease advances, the episodes of dyspnea start to develop more frequently eventually. The episodes of emphysema symptoms start occurring even at rest making it quite difficult to do daily activities thus altering the lifestyle.

With the progression of disease, you might experience some additional symptoms along with the commonly occurring ones. A lot of these commonly occurring symptoms can vary in intensity and can also be episodic in nature. A person who tries to quit smoking, they are able to slow down the lung dysfunction process and have a better outlook regarding the progression of the disease. Following is the description of some symptoms of emphysema:

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