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Introduction to Emphysema Lung Disease

The lungs are a pair of organs in the chest that are first and foremostresponsible for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the air aperson breathes and the blood.

Emphysema is a long-term, progressive disease of the lungs(it is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). It occurs when the airsacs at the ends of the bronchioles are gradually destroyed.

In emphysema, the bronchi and bronchioles get inflamed andare therefore constantly swollen and clogged. This then causes the alveoli toswell. These delicate air sacs burst and merge together. Damage to thealveoli makes it difficult for the transfer of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

If left untreated, this condition can cause other, serious complications (suchas pneumonia, heart disease, and hypertension, etc.) , and may cause a person toneed to be put on a breathing machine until the infection has cleared.

The most common causes of this condition include: smoking (this is thesingle most common cause of emphysema; there are four thousand chemicals in tobaccosmoke, which slowly destroy the small peripheral airways, the elastic air sacsand their supporting elastic fiber), and protein deficiency (of the AAtprotein; however, this only happens in 2 per cent of all cases of emphysema).


The symptoms of emphysema usually start off as being mild, and then getworse as the disease has progressed. The most common symptoms of this conditioninclude: shortness of breath, fatigue, wheezing, loss of appetite, chesttightness, chronic cough, weight loss, etc. The affected person may also have areduced capacity for doing any physical activity. This is the result of thelack of oxygen.It is very important that a person consult a doctor as soonas they have noticed the first signs of this disease. The doctor will then prescribethe best course of treatment.


A doctor can diagnose emphysema from a physical exam,symptoms, and a chest x-ray, which may show such signs as over-inflation of thelungs and other changes. A lung function test can then detect reduced abilityto exhale fully. Blood tests can measure the concentrations of oxygen andcarbon dioxide in the blood.

Firstly, if the disease is the result of smoking, the doctorwill demand that the person immediately stop smoking, in order not to worsentheir condition. Then, the treatment will be focused on making the patient feelbetter and slow the advancement of emphysema. Measures can be taken to control the disease and itssymptoms.This can be done in various ways, by prescription medicine,surgery, and pulmonary rehabilitation program.

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