What Is Emphysema? is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease characterized by destruction of air-sacs (alveoli) of the lungs leading to shortness of breath. In emphysema alveoli become filled with air which expand with time, eventually break and get replaced by scar tissue formation. These alveoli form an important part of blood-lung oxygen exchange system. Damaged to these air-sacs therefore causes progressive shortness of breath in the patients.
Surgical emphysema occurs while air/gas is situated in the subcutaneous tissues. This generally occurs in the chest, face or neck.
Bullous emphysema is recognized as vanishing lung condition too. Emphysema causes a loss of elasticity in the walls of the little air sacs in the lung.
The most important world-wide emphysema causes is cigarette smoking. Long term regular tobacco smoking has deleterious effects on body. Lungs are most commonly damaged. Passive smoking is regarded more dangerous than active smoking. Chances of emphysema increase in terms of total smoke exposure. Other emphysema causes includes air pollution, occupational exposure to harmful chemicals, fuels and gases. Cooking without proper ventilation can also lead to it. Surface area of the lung is greatly reduced due to conversion of alveoli into large irregular air-filled pockets with holes in them caused by the harmful smokes. Genetics is also involved in the disease’s progression. Some eminent causes of emphysema are aging, environmental factors and reduced airway reactivity.
Emphysema symptoms are related to alveolar damage and loss. Initially no symptoms appear except asthma during exersions. With the passage of time patient experiences shortness of breath even at rest owing to destruction of alveoli causing less amount of oxygen entering the blood. In chronic cases, patient presents with cough with or without sputum, fatigue, recurrent infections of lung, arrhythmia, need for oxygen therapy, severe weight loss, malnutrition and thinning of bones. Right side of the heart is adversely affected by chronic lung disease leading to a condition called cor pulmonale. Elastic fibers holding small air ways are also destroyed leading to collapse of airways while exhaling causing entrapping of air within the lungs. Wheezing sounds can be heard by the clinician on examination of chest through stethoscope.
Emphysema diagnosis is based upon its symptoms of shortness of breath, chronic cough with sputum, history of exposure to risk factors and frequent infections in patients over the age of 35 to 40 years. Confirmation of diagnosis is then done on the basis of results obtained by spirometry. FEV1/ FVC ratio of less than 0.7 after bronchodilator use confirms emphysema. Complete blood count and X-ray chest are also important diagnostic tools for emphysema.
Emphysema can’t be completely cured when the destruction and loss of alveoli occurs. However it can be effectively managed through the control of risk factors and supplementary treatments through oxygen ventilation therapies. Emphysema treatment options include use of inhalation bronchodilators in order to open up the collapse air passages during asthmic attacks. They are associated with side-effects of urinary tract abnormalities and dry mouth. Corticosteroids are also used to reduce acute exacerbations. Supplemental oxygen therapy and lung transplant surgeries are also indicated in chronic advanced cases. Overall prognosis of the disease is poor. Emphysema herbal product, containing pure herbal extracts, effectively treats symptoms of emphysema without any side effects. With herbal product usage, amazing recovery has been observed in emphysema patients within short span of time.