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Emphysema is a type of COPD involving damage to the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. As a result, your body does not get the oxygen it needs. Emphysema makes it hard to catch your breath. You may also have a chronic cough and have trouble breathing during exercise.

The most common cause is cigarette smoking. If you smoke, quitting can help prevent you from getting the disease. If you already have emphysema, not smoking might keep it from getting worse. Treatment is based on whether your symptoms are mild, moderate or severe. Treatments include inhalers, oxygen, medications and sometimes surgery to relieve symptoms and prevent complications.

Symptoms of Emphysema

The following features are indicative of Emphysema:
  • shortness of breath
  • lips or fingernails turn blue or gray with exertion
It is possible that Emphysema shows no physical symptoms and still be present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Emphysema

The following are the most common causes of Emphysema:
  • smoking
  • long term exposure to marijuana smoke
  • long-term exposure to airborne irritants
  • exposure to manufacturing fumes

Risk Factors for Emphysema

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Emphysema:
  • smoking
  • exposure to secondhand smoke
  • occupational exposure to fumes or dust
  • exposure to indoor and outdoor pollution
  • age between 40 to 60 years

Prevention of Emphysema

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Emphysema. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • do not smoke
  • avoid breathing secondhand smoke
  • wear mask while working with chemical fumes or dust

Occurrence of Emphysema

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Emphysema cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Emphysema most commonly occurs in the following age group:
  • Aged between 15-60 years

Common Gender

Emphysema can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Emphysema

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Emphysema:
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scans combine X-ray images: To create cross-sectional views of internal organs
  • Blood tests: To determine how well the lungs transfer oxygen into and remove carbon dioxide from the bloodstream
  • Lung function tests: To measure how much air the lungs can hold and how well the air flows in and out of the lungs

Doctor for Diagnosis of Emphysema

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Emphysema:
  • Pulmonologist

Complications of Emphysema if untreated

Yes, Emphysema causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Emphysema is left untreated:
  • collapsed lung
  • heart problems
  • large holes in the lungs

Procedures for Treatment of Emphysema

The following procedures are used to treat Emphysema:
  • Lung volume reduction surgery: To remove small wedges of damaged lung tissue
  • Lung transplant: To treat severe lung damage

Medicines for Emphysema

Below is the list of medicines used for Emphysema:

Self-care for Emphysema

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Emphysema:
  • Quit smoking: Helps in maintaining overall health
  • Exercise regularly: Helps protecting against further complications
  • Protect yourself from cold air: Helps in easing the breathe

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Emphysema

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Emphysema:
  • Supplemental oxygen therapy: To treat severe emphysema
  • Nutritional therapy: Helps treating the disease

Patient Support for Treatment of Emphysema

The following actions may help Emphysema patients:
  • Join a rehabilitation program: Helps to reduce breathlessness and improves the ability to exercise
  • Join a support group: Helps in providing coping strategies

Time for Treatment of Emphysema

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Emphysema to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • Disease cannot be treated but only maintained or effects reduced

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Emphysema.
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