Emphysema is one of the diseases that comprises COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Emphysema involves gradual damage of lung tissue, specifically thinning and destruction of the alveoli or air sacs which are destroyed in emphysema, making it progressively difficult to breathe. Emphysema is usually accompanied by chronic bronchitis, with almost-daily or daily cough and phlegm. What are the main causes and symptoms of Emphysema? How is Emphysema diagnosed? How to prevent emphysema? Keep reading to find out.
Causes of Emphysema
Cigarette smoking is the number one cause of emphysema. When tobacco smoke is inhaled, the alveoli become saturated with thousands of harmful chemicals and other toxins, which can cause inflammation and destroy lung tissue. Once this damage occurs, it cannot be reversed. A very small proportion of people get emphysema because they inherited a faulty gene that normally helps to keep the air sacs of the lungs healthy. Other causes of emphysema include passive smoking, particularly during infancy. Exposure to industrial dust, chemicals and air pollutants are also the causes of emphysema. Over time, the lung tissue becomes stiff and less effective at taking oxygen into the body.
Symptoms of Emphysema
Most people may not feel any symptoms of emphysema until there is more damages to the lung tissue. Early symptoms may appear gradually as shortness of breath and on-going fatigue. As emphysema progresses, they may experience shortness of breath even when they are resting. This can make normal activities such as eating difficult, which can lead to a reduced appetite and weight loss. In the later stages, the person may have chronic cough, frequent lung infections, a lot of mucus, wheezing and fatigue. They may also have blue-tinged lips, cyanosis due to a lack of oxygen, anxiety, depression and sleep problems. In the Morning, they can feel headaches due to a lack of oxygen and meanwhile it is difficult for them to breath at night.
Diagnosis of Emphysema
Emphysema can be diagnosed by the following methods.The first one is blood tests; The second is a separate test of blood from an artery to check oxygen levels; The Third is a chest x-ray; The last is tests to see how well your lungs work. Some people may also be asked to have further check for diagnosis. They will be asked to have a CT scan and an ECG (electrocardiogram) to look at their heart.
Prevention of Emphysema
For the most of people with emphysema, the best way to prevent it and slow it down is to not smoke. This outweighs all other considerations. The following are some tips that can help people to protect their lungs who have emphysema. First they should try to avoid secondhand smoke and avoid air pollution as much as possible. They should do exercises when possible and avoid cold air, which can cause the lungs to spasm. They need use air conditioning with a filter and humidity control. Try to avoid allergic “triggers” that can aggravate emphysema if asthma coexists. Finally they must wash hands and brush their teeth frequently to avoid infections.