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Term: Emphysema


Emphysema is a lung disease referred to as a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). This disease causes damage to the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. Millions of the lungs' tiny air sacs (alveoli) stretch out of shape or rupture. As these thin, fragile air sacs become damaged or destroyed, the lungs lose their natural elasticity. They become unable to empty easily.As a result of the air sacs in the lungs being damaged your body to not get the oxygen it needs through circulation. Emphysema is a progressive disease, which means it continues to get worse. As the condition progresses, the lungs lose their ability to absorb oxygen and release carbon dioxide. Emphysema, along with chronic bronchitis, together are referred to as Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease, or COPD. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the two most common forms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), right now COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.
The main cause of Emphysema is extended exposure to airborne irritants which include tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke, air pollution, manufacturing fumes, coal, and silica dust. The most common cause of Emphysema is cigarette smoking. An extremely rare cause of emphysema is from an inherited disease known as alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency. You can have emphysema for many years without noticing any signs or symptoms. One of the many symptoms of Emphysema and most common is shortness of breath. You may also have a chronic cough and have trouble breathing during exercise or physical activity. Additional symptoms of Emphysema include wheezing, chest tightness or pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, depression, poor sleep quality. Symptoms are slowly progressive which means they are expected to get worse over time and the lungs will slowly lose function.
People at risk are cigarette smokers. Also people that are exposed to indoor/outdoor pollutions.Symptoms usually develop in people between the ages of 45 and 60 years old. You should see a doctor when you are no longer able to climb stair sand you are shortened of breath. When you see blue discoloration i your lips, mouth and fingernails and you are no longer mentally alert. You can help prevent yourself from getting Emphysema by not smoking or inhaling second hand smoke. If you already have emphysema, not smoking might keep it from getting worse. Currently Emphysema can't be cured but there are treatments and medication to help relieve symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.
Treatment of Emphysema is based on whether your symptoms are mild, moderate or severe. Some of the medications include smoking cessation medication, bronchodilators, inahled steroids, and antibiotics. Therapy is another treatment which involves pulmonary rehabilitation and supplemental oxygen. In severe cases there is also the option for surgery which includes lung volume reduction and lung transplants.

Web Resources:


Related Terminology:

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Chronic Bronchitis
acute brochitis


"Emphysema: Get Facts on Common Symptoms." MedicineNet. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2014.
"Top 10 Doctor Insights on Airway Obstruction Associated with Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis - HealthTap." HealthTap. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2014.