By: Katelynn Dick
What is Emphysema
What causes emphysema?
Shortness of breath is by far the most common of emphysema symptoms. Most people with emphysema first notice something's wrong when they become winded during a previously routine activity. This might be climbing stairs or mowing the lawn.
The shortness of breath in emphysema results from structural changes in the lungs. These occur over years in response to lung damage, usually from smoking.
- The linings between air sacs are destroyed creating air pockets in the lungs.
- Air is trapped in these air pockets and is difficult to breathe out.
- The lungs slowly enlarge and breathing takes more effort.
In people with emphysema the muscles responsible for breathing have to work harder and tire out sooner. The result is feeling breathless at first with activity and at rest in advanced emphysema.
Bronchodilators these drugs can help relieve coughing shortness of breath and breathing problems by relaxing constricted airways but they're not as effective in treating emphysema as they are in treating asthma or chronic bronchitis's
Inhaled steroids corticosteroid drugs inhaled as aerosol sprays may help relieve shortness of breath. Prolonged use may weaken your bones and increase your risk of high blood pressure cataracts and diabetes.
Antibiotics if you develop a bacterial infection like acute bronchitis or pneumonia antibiotics are appropriate.
Pulmonary rehabilitation a pulmonary rehabilitation program can teach you breathing exercises and techniques that may help reduce your breathlessness and improve your ability to exercise.
Nutrition therapy you'll also receive advice about proper nutrition. In the early stages of emphysema many people need to lose weight while people with late-stage emphysema often need to gain weight.
Supplemental oxygen if you have severe emphysema with low blood oxygen levels using oxygen regularly at home and when you exercise may provide some relief. Many people use oxygen 24 hours a day. It's usually administered via narrow tubing that fits into your nostrils.
Depending on the severity of your emphysema your doctor may suggest one or more different types of surgery
Lung volume reduction surgery in this procedure, surgeons remove small wedges of damaged lung tissue. Removing the diseased tissue helps the remaining lung tissue expand and work more efficiently and helps improve breathing
Lung transplant lung transplantation is an option if you have severe emphysema and other options have failed.
To prevent emphysema, don't smoke and avoid breathing secondhand smoke. Wear a mask to protect your lungs if you work with chemical fumes or dust.