Emphysema is one contributing factor to COPD signs and symptoms, but it also has its own distinct place in the lung diseases list. What is emphysema? In order to properly answer the question, it helps to understand how our lungs work. For Starters: Lung Facts Inside the lungs, there is … Read More
what is emphysema
What is emphysema? This lung disease is one of two conditions, along with chronic bronchitis, that make up chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Emphysema damages the air sacs, or alveoli, in the lungs. When you breathe in, air travels down the branching bronchial tubes and bronchioles, into the alveoli. Oxygen enters the bloodstream through blood vessels in the alveoli walls, while carbon dioxide leaves the bloodstream to be removed during exhalation.
In emphysema, damage causes the thin walls of the air sacs to weaken. Over time they break open, leaving one big space where there once were many small spaces. Because the lungs can no longer absorb as much oxygen, you?ll begin to have trouble breathing. Your oxygen level can drop to the point where your lips or fingernails turn blue.
Smoking causes most cases of emphysema. The longer you smoke, and the more cigarettes you smoke each day, the greater the lung damage becomes. Exposure to chemical fumes at work, and to outdoor air pollution can also cause emphysema.
Emphysema can take many years to progress. At first, you might not realize you have the condition. Over time, you?ll start to develop shortness of breath. You can become so short of breath that you have trouble walking, climbing stairs, and going about your normal activities. Usually, you?ll have emphysema together with chronic bronchitis. Bronchitis causes symptoms like a consistent cough, which often produces mucus.
Though you can?t reverse or cure emphysema, you can treat it with medicines that open up the airways and relax constricted breathing. Inhaled bronchodilators and steroids are foundations of emphysema treatment. You may need to breathe in oxygen from a canister, especially when you exercise or do activities around the home. A program called pulmonary rehabilitation incorporates exercise, nutrition, counseling, and education to help you manage your condition. If you smoke, quitting can prevent further lung damage and help you breathe easier.
What is COPD? It stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and it typically describes two conditions: emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Some people suffer from just one of these conditions, but most people with COPD have both—and both can seriously affect your lungs. In fact, COPD is one of the most … Read More