Emphysema is a condition whichmanifests through permanent damage of the fine linings of the airsacs in the lungs. It is one of the most common diseases which affectpeople who smoke cigarettes, due to the toxins that these unhealthyproducts contain.
The following lines are dedicated toproviding people further information about the relationship betweenemphysema and smoking.
Emphysema and Smoking
As it was mentioned above, emphysema istriggered by smoking over the years. In time, the damage of the lungsspreads onto the delicate tissues which connect the air sacs,creating air pockets inside the lungs. Once air becomes entrappedinside these air pockets it leads to more lung tissue loss anddestruction. Finally, this results in the gradual expansion of thelungs and worsening of the problems, since breathing becomesexcessively difficult for the people who suffer from emphysema.
Bearing all the problems related tothis condition in mind, it is to be expected that people who sufferfrom emphysema will take more time in order to fully empty theirlungs that people who are not affected by this illness. Basically,the sufferers feel as if something is obstructing the air flow fromtheir lungs. A condition which can result in similar symptoms ischronic bronchitis and it can also be attributed to long-termsmoking.
Medicine and other forms of science areyet to find the exact culprit behind the negative effect of smokingand its triggering of emphysema. Still, it is known that smokers are6 times more prone to developing this condition that those who do notsmoke are. Hence, about 10 million of US citizens suffer from someform of emphysema, even though many of them are not even aware ofthis. Subsequently, emphysema takes the 4 place on the leading causeof death in the US list.
Contrary to all logic, not all peoplewho smoke cigarettes heavily develop emphysema. Again, science hasnot found any logical explanation for this state of affairs.
Emphysema can also be triggered by someother health problems, the most common being the alpha 1 antitrypsindeficiency. Antitrypsines are proteins which move around in ourblood, making sure that the white blood cells are not attacking anybenign cells. If the normal tissues in the body get damaged, like itis the case with antitrypsin deficiency, emphysema can be one of thepossible scenarios. Naturally, if people suffering from thiscondition smoke as well, the chances of developing emphysema are muchgreater. Moreover, the occurrence of emphysema in smokers is muchmore frequent than in people with Antitrypsin deficiency.
Air pollution is also a possible causeof this emphysema, even though the exact risk factors related to thisculprit are not exactly determined.
Emphysema Stages of the Disease
In order to diagnose or rule outemphysema, your doctor, upon your seeking of medical assistance, willperform a special breathing test which is medically referred to asspirometry. The test displays the function of one's lungs and doesnot lead to pain nor discomfort. Basically, the only thing a personneeds to do here is breathe as hard as possible into a large tubewhich is connected to the spirometer device.
Then, based on your results, the doctorwill classify your emphysema, if this condition is actually present.If there are certain signs of you potentially developing thiscondition, you will be classified as “at risk”. However, if thedamage had already been done, the levels of emphysema may range from“mild”, over “moderate” up to “severe”.
If you are at risk of developing thiscondition, your breathing tests will most likely turn out normal.However, in mild emphysema, you have problems with breathingnormally, due to a mild level of obstruction, usually formed bysputum or cough production diagnosed as chronic.
Logically, if the situation is worse,with increased frequency and types of symptoms and shortness ofbreath appearing when you engage into demanding physical activities,your condition will be labeled as moderate.
Finally, serious airflow impairment,resulting in loss of breath even during low-demand physicalactivities, combined with signs of respiratory or heart failure, allare signs which signify severe emphysema, requiring urgent medicalassistance. In fact, this stage is often deadly.
Once diagnosed, you will be treated thebest way possible for your condition. The main goal of the treatmentis alleviation of the symptoms through triggering no or minimalside-effects. Also, the doctor will give his/her best to increaseyour exercise tolerance and prevent onsets of any future problems ofthis type once you manage to recover. This can be done withmedications, through a process of pulmonary rehabilitation orexposure to oxygen. In dire cases, surgery may be necessary.
Emphysema is a lung conditionmanifesting through breathing difficulties due to lung damage, mostcommonly caused by long-term indulgence in cigarette smoking. Thereare several stages of this disease, gradually varying, depending onthe severity of the lung damage and the breathing impairments thepatient has.