Know more about the story behind Emphysema?Emphysema is a condition that affects the respiratory system. People suffering from this condition have the tiny air sacs found in the lungs known as alveoli stretched out until they lose their normal shape and get ruptured at sometimes. These air sacs are very thin and fragile and once they get destroyed or damaged, the natural elasticity of the lungs is lost and emptying easily becomes quite a problem. Being a progressive health condition, Emphysema can get worse over time and with time, the lungs completely lose their ability of absorbing oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. People with this condition have breathing difficulties and tend to feel as they are short of breath as if enough air is not getting into their lungs.

What causes Emphysema?

Together with chronic bronchitis, Emphysema is a common form of the so called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and the two diseases tend to occur together most of the times. Both of them result from the bronchial tubes and lungs being damaged. For damages caused by smoking, it is highly likely for the symptoms to improve overtime after one stops smoking. Most cases of Emphysema are caused by smoking. In fact, medical doctors also warn members of the public that second hand smoking can also lead to Emphysema as well as airborne toxins even though the degree might be much lesser. In some cases, Emphysema can be inherited and this genetic condition is referred to as the alpha 1- antitrypsin deficiency.

What are the symptoms of Emphysema?

When the condition is in its early stages, only few symptoms are experienced. The disease tends to progress slowly over time and as time goes on, one starts to notice some breathing changes. The average person is highly unlikely to experience these symptoms unless they have been smoking like a pack of cigars per day for over a period of 20 years. But in the long run, nearly everyone with Emphysema will experience breath shortness. This could only be noticed after once is engaged in strenuous activities like playing sports or climbing stairs. Regardless what is the cause of Emphysema, the respiratory symptoms tend to remain the same. Other common symptoms of this condition include: wheezing, bring up phlegm especially when one also has chronic bronchitis, coughing, chest tightness, weight loss, morning headaches, difficult sleeping, constant fatigue, swollen ankles and concentrating difficulties.

Treatment options for Emphysema

Unfortunately, Emphysema cannot be stopped or reversed with any treatment. Various treatment options available help to treat complications and relieve symptoms as well as minimize disability. The main treatment advice given by doctors is for one to quit smoking as this is the only way to maintain healthy lungs. Those with AAT deficiency might require replacement therapy where natural AAT from donors is infused but the treatment can be quite expensive. Other possible medications include bronchodilators inhalers, corticosteroids, antibiotics and oxygen therapy.