Introduction to Emphysema Lung Disease
The lungs are a pair of organs in the chest that are first and foremost
responsible for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the air a
person 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 air
sacs at the ends of the bronchioles are gradually destroyed.
In emphysema, the bronchi and bronchioles get inflamed and
are therefore constantly swollen and clogged. This then causes the alveoli to
swell. These delicate air sacs burst and merge together. Damage to the
alveoli makes it difficult for the transfer of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
If left untreated, this condition can cause other, serious complications (such
as pneumonia, heart disease, and hypertension, etc.) , and may cause a person to
need to be put on a breathing machine until the infection has cleared.
The most common causes of this condition include: smoking (this is the single most common cause of emphysema; there are four thousand chemicals in tobacco smoke, which slowly destroy the small peripheral airways, the elastic air sacs and their supporting elastic fiber), and protein deficiency (of the AAt protein; 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 get
worse as the disease has progressed. The most common symptoms of this condition
include: shortness of breath, fatigue, wheezing, loss of appetite, chest
tightness, chronic cough, weight loss, etc. The affected person may also have a
reduced capacity for doing any physical activity. This is the result of the
lack of oxygen.
It is very important that a person consult a doctor as soon as they have noticed the first signs of this disease. The doctor will then prescribe the 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 the
lungs and other changes. A lung function test can then detect reduced ability
to exhale fully. Blood tests can measure the concentrations of oxygen and
carbon dioxide in the blood.
Firstly, if the disease is the result of smoking, the doctor will demand that the person immediately stop smoking, in order not to worsen their condition. Then, the treatment will be focused on making the patient feel better and slow the advancement of emphysema. Measures can be taken to control the disease and its symptoms.This can be done in various ways, by prescription medicine, surgery, and pulmonary rehabilitation program.