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Emphysema condition is defined as the distention of the air spaces distal to the terminal bronchioles withdestruction of alveolar septa within the lungs. It is generally present in both lungs. Air sacs distend and rupture to form large emphysematous sacs, which are not available for exchange of oxygen with blood resulting in less oxygen being available for the body.

Emphysema is a chronic lung disease that can get worse over time. The air sacs are unable to completely deflate, and are therefore unable to fill with fresh air to ensure adequate oxygen supply to the body. It's usually caused by smoking. The tiny air sacs in the lungs called alveoli, through which oxygen is absorbed into the bloodstream, lose their natural elasticity, meaning spent air is pushed back out into the lungs. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the two most common forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and they often occur together. In the United States, cigarette smoking is by far the most important risk factor for emphysema. Symptoms of emphysema include shortness of breath, cough and a limited exercise tolerance. In emphysema, there is permanent enlargement of the tiny air sacs in the lungs (called alveoli) due to the destruction of the walls between the small alveoli. Medical scientists have defined emphysema as "a condition of the lung characterized by abnormal, permanent enlargement of airspaces distal to the terminal bronchioles, accompanied by the destruction of their walls, and without obvious fibrosis".

Emphysema is a serious condition and can be life-threatening. Unlike heart disease and other more common causes of death, the death rate for COPD appears to be rising. Two million Americans are affected, largely those who are over age 50. Centrilobular emphysema, the most common of the three, is usually caused by cigarette smoking. This group of diseases ranks as the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Pathologists recognize three major types of emphysema: localized (distal acinar, paraseptal), centrilobular (centriacinar), and panlobular (panacinar). Emphysema is part of a lung disease known as COPD. When emphysema is advanced, you must work so hard to expel air from your lungs that breathing can consume up to 20 percent of your resting energy. COPD is the fourth most common and the most rapidly increasing cause of death in the United States. As the disease gets worse, breathing becomes more difficult, and it may become hard to carry out everyday activities. Although COPD can be managed, it cannot be cured at this time. Men are more likely than women to develop emphysema, but female cases are increasing as the number of female smokers rises.

Causes of Emphysema

The comman causes of Emphysema include the following :

  • Most cases of emphsyema are caused by cigarette smoking. Cigarette smoke reaches deep into the lungs and causes permanent damage. Smoking marijuana cigarettes is shunned for clear reasons, but a lot of argue that vaping, or using a vaporizer to inhale cannabis, is helpful for COPD without exacerbating the lungs' inflammatory condition.
  • Close relatives of people with emphysema are more likely to develop the disease themselves.
  • There is some evidence that air pollution can contribute to people getting emphysema, especially if the person also smokes.
  • A viral infection may also cause a COPD exacerbation.
  • Abnormal airway reactivity, such as bronchial asthma , has been shown to be a risk factor for the development of emphysema.
  • A naturally occurring substance in the lungs called alpha-1 antitrypsin may protect against this damage. People with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency are at an increased risk for this disease.

Symptoms of Emphysema

Some sign and symptoms related to Emphysema are as follows:

  • Shortness of breath is the most common symptom of emphysema.
  • Feeling tired (fatigue).
  • Losing weight without trying.
  • Cough, sometimes caused by the production of mucus, and wheezing may also be symptoms of emphysema.
  • Ankle, feet, and leg swelling.
  • Destruction of capillaries feeding the alveoli.
  • A barrel-shaped chest.
  • Destruction of structures supporting the alveoli.
  • Swelling of the ankles
  • Lethargy or difficulty concentrating
  • Wheezing may occur in some patients, particularly during exertion and exacerbations.

Treatment of Emphysema

Here is list of the methods for treating Emphysema:

  • The number one treatment for emphysema is to quit smoking and stay away from smoky places .
  • There are other treatments for emphysema, including medications, supplemental oxygen, and more.
  • Antibiotics may be prescribed when respiratory infections occur. Influenza (flu) vaccines and Pneumovax (pneumonia vaccine) are recommended for people with emphysema.
  • Protein therapy. Infusions of AAt may help slow lung damage in people with an inherited deficiency of the protein.
  • Medications used to improve breathing include bronchodilators (hand-held inhaler or nebulizer), diuretics, and corticosteroids.
  • Low-flow oxygen can be used during exertion, continuously, or at night.
  • Lung transplantation is an option for patients with severe disease.