Emphysema is the disease of the respiratory tract that occurs due to damage to the alveoli. It causes shortness of breath because efficient gas exchange can not take place.
Emphysema is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In this disease, the air sacs weaken and rupture over time. Due to this, larger air spaces are created, and efficient gas exchange can not take place.
People having emphysema often have chronic bronchitis- a condition in which inflammation of bronchioles occurs, causing a severe and persistent cough. Emphysema and bronchitis constitute chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
A common cause of the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is smoking. Treatment can help in slowing down the progression of the disease. But the damage that has already occurred can not be slowed down. If you have any symptoms of respiratory disease, you should visit the pulmonologist in Lahore.
What are the Symptoms of Emphysema?
You may have emphysema without even knowing. Its common symptom is shortness of breath. You may avoid activities that make you go out of breath. It may progress to the level that you may have difficulty breathing even on rest.
When Should You Visit the Doctor?
You should not delay your visit to the doctor if you have breathlessness. Do not misconstrue that breathlessness is occurring due to a poor lifestyle or too much weight. Your healthcare provider can rule out the exact cause due to which you are facing difficulty in breathing. You should visit the doctor as soon as possible if:
- Your finger or nails turn blue upon physical exertion
- You are unable to climb stairs
- You are not mentally alert
What are the Causes of Emphysema?
Mostly, emphysema occurs due to long term exposure to irritants, such as:
- Marijuana smoke
- Tobacco smoke
- Chemical fumes
- Air pollution
Emphysema can also occur due to genetic deficiency of a certain protein that protects the elasticity of lungs- a condition called alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency emphysema.
What are the Risk Factors for Emphysema?
The risk factors for emphysema are:
Smoking cigarettes causes the hardening of the alveoli, which puts you at risk of developing the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The more smoking you do, the more the risk of emphysema increases.
Although the symptoms of emphysema show up slowly, smoking-induced emphysema mostly shows up between 40 to 60 years of age.
Exposure to Second-hand Smoke
Second-hand smoke or passive smoking is the one that you inhale from someone else’s cigar or pipe. It can increase the risk of emphysema for you.
If you remain in an environment for a long time where other people smoke, it can lead to emphysema. Therefore you should avoid your exposure to secondhand smoke. Even if you do not smoke on your own, you may end up hurting your body due to other people’s smoke.
Exposure to Fumes or Dust
Breathing smoke from certain chemicals or dust from grains or mining wood for a long time can put you at risk of developing emphysema. This risk increases even more if you smoke cigarettes.
Exposure to Pollution
Long exposure to outdoor or indoor pollution can increase the risk of emphysema for you.
What are the Complications of Emphysema?
The complications of emphysema are:
- Pneumothorax- a condition in which the lung collapses. Although it is rare, it can happen in people having the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It can affect breathing because the patient already has a lot of difficulty in breathing.
- Heart Problems- when efficient gas exchange can not take place through the lungs, it can put a load on the heart. Therefore a heart disease such as cor pulmonale can occur.
- Bullae- a condition in which large empty spaces are created in the lungs that do not let efficient gaseous exchange happen.
To prevent emphysema, do not smoke and wear a mask if you get daily exposure to smoke or fumes. If you have a complaint of breathlessness, you can visit the pulmonologist in Islamabad.