What is Emphysema and How is it Treated

What is Emphysema

Emphysema is a disorder which is known to be a part of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and refers to the amplification and augmentation of the air sacs, present inside the lung. The alveoli at the end of the bronchioles of the lung become inflated because of the collapse of their walls. The fewer and larger ruined sacs cause a reduced surface area for the exchange of oxygen into the blood and carbon dioxide out of it. The damage is long-lasting, and not revocable; it causes reduced breathing function and panting. The impairment takes a number of forms, and the sacs can be shattered, tapered, collapsed, overextended or over-inflated.

This article covers,

1. Causes of Emphysema

2. Symptoms of Emphysema

3. Prevention and Treatment of Emphysema

What are the Causes of Emphysema

The major known cause or risk element for emphysema is cigarette smoking. Smoking is accountable for around 90% of its condition. Other inhaled contaminants, including work-related ones, also lead to emphysema and COPD . In developing countries, smoke from indoor food preparation and heating is also a significant cause.
While not as significant as primary cigarette smoke exposure, factors like air pollution, exposure to passive cigarette smoke, low body weight, childhood respiratory disorders, mineral dust, cotton dust, and inhaled chemicals (e.g., coal, grains, Isocyanides, cadmium).

Emphysema can also be caused by α1-antitrypsin deficiency. The protein is necessary for protecting the lungs against neutrophil Elastase destruction of alveolar tissue. This deficiency is congenital, i.e., people are born with it.

What is Emphysema and How is it Treated


What are the Symptoms of Emphysema

Shortness of breath and cough are the two main symptoms of emphysema. Cough is known to be progressive over time. Shortness of breath, known as dyspnoea, is a condition where a patient is unable to catch a breath. This symptom may be experienced only during bodily exertion, but as the disease advances, it may occur while resting too. Emphysema and COPD take years to develop and progress.

Other symptoms may be experienced, especially with more advanced lung disease such as frequent lung infections, producing a lot of mucus (phlegm or sputum), panting, reduced appetite, weight loss, weariness. Along with these blueness of the lips or fingernail beds (from cyanosis caused by poor respiration), anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, and morning headache signals night time breathing difficulty (nocturnal hypercapnia or hypoxemia)

Many of the symptoms of emphysema and COPD are shared by other medical conditions; it is important to seek a doctor’s examination and diagnosis.

How is Emphysema Prevented and Treated

The goal of therapy for emphysema is to provide aid of symptoms, prevent impediments and slow the development of the disease. Quitting smoking is also crucial for patients with emphysema since continued use of tobacco will only deteriorate the condition of the lungs.

Medications like bronchodilator, which includes inhaling sprays, use of vaccines, oxygen therapies are also beneficial, Surgery or lung transplant can also be performed. Along with these treatments, protein therapy, and pulmonary rehabilitation can be also applied.

Image Courtesy:

“Alveolus diagram” By LadyofHats – self-made(extracted from Image:Respiratory system complete.svg) (duplicate of Image:Respiratory system complete en.svg) (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Embogama

Embogama is a passionate freelance writer for several years. Her areas of interest include general medicine, clinical medicine, health and fitness, Ayurveda medicine, psychology, counseling and piano music