Emphysema – Symptoms and Causes

What is emphysema?

Emphysema is a chronic lung disease, It usually happens in smokers, but there are also irritants in people who breathe on a regular basis.

Emphysema causes damage to the alveoli in the lungs. Air sacs become weaker and break gradually, It reduces the surface of the lungs and the amount of oxygen that can reach the blood. This makes it hard to breathe, especially during the workout. Emphysema also causes the lungs to lose their flexibility.

Emphysema is among the two most common conditions under the term chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Another major problem with COPD is chronic bronchitis. As emphysema is an irreversible disorder, treatment aims to slow its development and reduce symptoms.

Symptoms of emphysema?

There are people who have been suffering from emphysema for years without any symptoms. Some of the first signs are shortness of breath or dyspnea and coughing, especially during exercise or exercise. It keeps getting worse until breathing is still hard, even while resting.

Symptoms include the following:

Affected people can have bluish grey lips or nails due to lack of oxygen. If this occurs, seek emergency health care.

Who is at risk for emphysema?

As per the American Lung Association, in 2011, over 4.5 million people in the US were diagnosed with emphysema. Most of them are above the age of 65. Males and females are at approximately the same risk of developing the disease.

Tobacco use is the primary reason for emphysema. The more you smoke, the more likely you are to suffer from emphysema. Smoking marijuana may also be associated with emphysema. As per the American Lung Association, Tobacco use kills more than 480,000 Americans annually, and 80 per cent of these deaths are caused by COPD, including emphysema. Exposure to second-hand smoke is also associated with an increased risk of emphysema.(1)

Even more so, people living or working in areas exposed to high levels of pollution, chemical fumes, or lung irritants are at increased risk of becoming infected with the disease.

Genetics may be involved in some form of early emphysema development, but this is rare.

What is the diagnosis of emphysema?

Your doctor will first obtain your health history, ask specifically whether you are a smoker and whether you live in areas with hazardous vapors or pollutants at work or at home.

Emphysema may be determined by several tests, including:

  • imaging tests, such as radiographs and computed tomography scans, to monitor your lungs.
  • blood tests to determine how your lungs supply oxygen.
  • pulse oximetry, to measure how much oxygen you have in your bloodstream.
  • lung functioning tests, which typically consists of blowing through a device called a spirometer to measure the amount of air your lungs can breathe in and out and how your lungs deliver oxygen to your bloodstream.
  • blood tests to measure how much blood and carbon dioxide your blood contains.
  • electrocardiogram (ECG), to check cardiac function and eliminate cardiac diseases.

How is emphysema treated?

We don’t have a cure for emphysema. The treatment aims to minimise symptoms and slow the progression of the disease with medicines, therapies, or surgeries.

In case you’re a smoker, the first stage in the treatment of emphysema involves quitting smoking, with drugs or cold turkey.


Different medications may assist in treating the disease, which includes:

  • bronchodilators, to help release or unlock air passages, make breathing easier and relieve cough and shortness of breath.
  • steroids, for reducing dyspnea or shortness of breath
  • antibiotics, to cure infections that may worsen the condition.

Any of these medications can be administered orally or by inhalation.


Lung therapy or moderate exercise such as walking may strengthen respiratory muscles and relieve symptoms, Make breathing and fitness easier. Yoga, tai chi and deep breathing exercises can help relieve symptoms as well.

Oxygen treatment can help relieve breathing. People who have severe emphysema may require 24 hours of oxygen.


Pulmonary reduction surgery can be performed to remove small portions of the affected lung, and a Lung transplantation can replace the entire lung. These operations are rare and are only used in those suffering from severe emphysema.

Other treatments

Those suffering from emphysema are generally underweight. Intake of foods containing vitamins A, C and E, such as fruits and vegetables, is recommended to improve your overall health.

Receiving vaccinations for certain infections, such as pneumonia, may help to prevent the appearance of an infection that may cause emphysema.

People suffering from emphysema usually experience symptoms such as anxiety and depression because they are not as active as before. In certain cases, they can be linked to an oxygen tank. Having a support group can help you communicate with other people who have the illness and share the same experiences. It can help you to feel that you are not alone in the struggle against the disease.


Because emphysema is mainly caused by smoking, The easiest way to stop it is not to smoke. As well, do not expose yourself to harmful chemicals, fumes or pollution.

The perspective of people with emphysema varies depending on their severity. There is no cure for the disease, and it worsens with time, but you can slow it down. In general, smoking cigarettes fixes the disease, so there is a need to stop it. Early detection of illness is essential, because people with emphysema may have life-threatening problems if their lungs and heart are damaged over time.

It is important to maintain good health by eating healthy food and exercising regularly. Quitting smoking is also a required part of the treatment process. With the help of medicines and treatments, you can live longer and healthier with emphysema.

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