Emphysema is a condition that affects the lungs after years of smoking. It belongs to a group of lung diseases known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Emphysema is an irreversible condition. It involves damage to alveoli (air sacs) of the lungs. The alveoli helps in drawing in the oxygen; transporting it to the blood and forcing carbon dioxide out of the body.
Causes of emphysema include:
- Exposure to air pollutants
- Respiratory infections
Emphysema may be left unnoticed for years as its symptoms begin gradually. Symptoms of emphysema includes:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- Long term mucus production
Diagnosis of emphysema involves:
- Review of signs and symptoms
- Physical examination
- Blood tests
- Lung function tests
- Pulse oximetry
- Chest X-rays
- CT Scan
Preventive measures for emphysema includes:
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid exposure to other respiratory irritants
- Wear a mask whenever there is a risk of exposure to airborne pollutants.
Emphysema has no cure. Treatment can be done to relieve the symptoms and slow down the progression of the condition. Type of treatment depends on the severity of the condition.
- Quitting smoking is the most important step in the treatment of emphysema.
- Medications such as bronchodilators, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs are used in the treatment of emphysema.
- Oxygen therapy is prescribed in case of hypoxemia or very low blood oxygen levels.
- Lung volume reduction surgery is done in some cases which involves removing a portion of diseased lung tissue.
- Lung transplant is also CN dispersed if your lung is severely damaged.
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