What is Emphysema?
Emphysema is a condition in which there is over-inflation of structures in the lungs known as alveoli or air sacs. This over-inflation results from a breakdown of the walls of the alveoli, which causes a decrease in respiratory function and breathlessness.
In emphysema, the lungs loose elasticity and are unable to fully expand and contract. This occurs because the air sacs cannot completely deflate, thus unable to fill with fresh air for adequate ventilation. Emphysema in children is usually caused by congenital abnormalities of the lung and alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.
In emphysema, the patient can breathe in but breating out is difficult and inefficient. The seriousness of emphysema varies greatly. Some persons with emphysema never reach a stage of incapacity and go through life with relatively litte inconvenience, while in others, emphysema worsens until final degeneration of the ability to breath occurs.
Some patients with emphysema may also have black lung disease.
Symptoms of Emphysema?
Early symptoms or emphysema include:
* shortness of breath
* a chronic cough
* a bluish coloration of the skin caused by lack of oxygen
* shortness of breath (chronic)
* shortness of breath with mild exertion wheezing
Other symptoms that may occur with emphysema are: dizziness, difficulty, lying down anxiety, stress, impotence, fatigue, impaired ability to concentrate, excessive daytime sleepiness, and difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
What Causes Emphysema?
Cigarette smoking is the major cause of emphysema. Tobacco smoke and other pollutants are thought to cause the release of chemicals within the air sacs of the lung that damage the walls of the air sacs. When chemicals are released, a chemical imbalance occurs. There are many different reasons this chemical imbalance occurs. Smoking causes the imbalance as well as exposure to air pollution, and irritating fumes and dusts on the job.