Emphysema can be described as a lung disease that can cause breath shortness. For people suffering from emphysema, the air sacs of the lung (alveoli) suffer from damage. As time passes, the inner membranes of these sacs become weaker and tear, creating bigger air spaces instead of several tiny ones. This decreases the surface of your lungs, reducing the quality of oxygen reaching the bloodstream.
After exhaling your breath, your damaged alveoli won’t function properly, and the old air gets stuck, leaving no space for fresh oxygen-rich air to get in.
Many people who suffer from emphysema suffer from chronic bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis irritates your tubes that transport air to the lung (bronchial tubes) and result in chronic cough.
Emphysema and chronic lung bronchitis are two conditions that make up chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD). Smoking is the most significant reason for COPD. Treatment can slow the progress of COPD. However, it isn’t able to reverse the damage.
Symptoms of Emphysema
Emphysema is a condition that can last for years and not notice any symptoms or signs. A common symptom of emphysema is breathlessness that usually develops gradually.
You might begin to avoid activities that cause you to become short of breath, and the symptoms don’t appear until it begins to interfere with everyday tasks. Emphysema is a condition that causes breathing problems even when you’re in a relaxed state.
Risk Factors Of Emphysema
Factors of developing emphysema are:
Smoking: Emphysema disease is most likely to develop in people who smoke tobacco regularly. However, cigar and pipe smokers as well are at high risk. However, a risk that affects all kinds of smokers rises with the length of time and the amount of tobacco consumed.
The Age: Although the lung damage caused by emphysema is gradual, most patients suffering from tobacco-related emphysema start to notice symptoms of the disease around 40 to 60 years old.
Passive Smoke Exposure: Passive smoke, sometimes referred to as environmental or passive tobacco smoke. This kind of smoke that you accidentally inhale from secondary sources increases the risk of getting the disease emphysema.
Exposed to dust or fumes: If you breathe smoke or you are exposed to dust from wood, grain, cotton, or mining materials are more likely to develop emphysema. The risk is higher when you smoke.
Exposure to pollution from both indoor and outdoor sources: Breathing indoor pollutants like fumes from heating fuel and outdoor pollution like car exhaust, for instance, can increase the chance of contracting emphysema.
When should you Visit Your Doctor?
Consult your physician if you’ve noticed a sudden loss of breath for a while. Particularly when it’s getting worse or is interfering with our routine. Don’t dismiss the issue by claiming that it’s due to aging or being overweight. Get medical attention immediately when:
- You’re so exhausted that you’re unable to climb steps
- The lips and fingernails of your finger change color to gray or blue with pressure
- You’re not alert metally.
People with emphysema are more likely to suffer from:
Lung Collapse (Pneumothorax): A collapsed lung could be life-threatening in those with severe emphysema due to lung function being already compromised. It is not common, but it can be severe when it happens.
Heart Issues: Emphysema can increase the pressure of the arteries that connect the heart and lung tissues. This could lead to the condition known as cor pulmonale. It is a condition in which an area of the heart is enlarged and then weakens.
Massive holes within the lung (Bullae): Some patients with emphysema have lung spaces that are empathy, known as bullae. They may be as large as half of the lung. They also reduce the lung space to expand. Large Bullae could increase the risk of developing pneumothorax.
What is the Cause of Emphysema?
Smoking is the most significant reason. Due to this, emphysema can be one of the least curable types of respiratory ailments. Air pollution at the workplace and home and genetic (inherited) causes (alpha-1 antitrypsin insufficient) and respiratory infection could contribute to creating emphysema.
Smoking cigarettes not only damages lung tissue but also irritates the airways. This can cause inflammation and may damage the cilia that line the bronchial tube.
This causes increased mucus production, swollen airways, and difficulty cleaning the airways. These changes could cause shortness of breath.